10 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1) International Etiquette: 5 Tips to Help Your Business Go Global
As your business expands internationally, so should your knowledge of business customs, which vary tremendously around the world. Understanding professional etiquette in the country or region you are entering is crucial to your company’s international success and will help ensure that you are impressing potential business partners, not offending them.
While doing your homework on international business etiquette is obviously important, John Fox, vice president and general manager of southeast U.S. for DHL Express USA, offers these tips to get you started on going global:
- Take time to research the country: Understanding the culture and roots of a country will establish a level of comfort with your counterparts. Additionally, be sure to know the specific geographic location; it can be embarrassing if you can’t find your business partner’s country on a map.
- Show respect: Certain gestures are acceptable in the U.S. but may be offensive in other regions of the world. Always show the utmost respect to your foreign business partners by understanding inherent cultural disparities.
- Know how to properly address people: The use of titles, first names and surnames varies country to country. Make an impactful first impression by addressing your colleagues in the manner in which they are accustomed.
- Clarify all acronyms, slang and jargon: Commonplace acronyms may be clear to those in the U.S., but could have a very different meaning in other nations. Avoiding jargon is key to accurately conveying your message to other parties.
- Smile—it’s universal: A smile is one of the few body language gestures that is easily understood and appreciated across the globe. Create a platform for open conversation with an approachable greeting.
For more tips on international etiquette, check out the DHL infographic below.
2) 6 Best Practices for Increasing ROI
We know most small businesses have few resources and even fewer employees, so the obvious top strategic priority is to reduce costs and overhead. SMBs also need to increase ROI without compromising the growth of their sales teams—and a majority of industry leaders are trying to address this challenge through greater insight into which of their marketing efforts are or are not paying off.
If you’re an SMB and are feeling overwhelmed – don’t worry. We asked Lance Weatherby, vice president of Sales and Marketing at CallRail, to share some best practices for empowering your sales team with the ultimate tool they need to grow your ROI: call analytics.
- Optimize for Mobile: Consumers’ increased addiction to mobile browsing has led to a spike in inbound call volume, making call tracking a crucial element of the savvy digital marketer’s strategy. Optimizing your mobile website is a crucial step towards call tracking implementation.
- Track Calls for Campaigns: By assigning a unique trackable phone number to each marketing campaign (i.e. a click-to-call CTA) call tracking services are able to determine which sources are driving your calls.
- Track at the Keyword Level: Keyword-level tracking creates a unique phone number for each keyword source within a search, allowing businesses to drill down to the individual search keyword level and link calls to specific web visitors and their actions on the site. This is an essential component for businesses that are looking to expand their marketing channels across digital mediums.
- Train Your Employees with Call Recording: Call recording provides the ability to train sales people with what to do and not to do on the phone with potential customers. SMBs can improve sales, coach employees, and assess the quality of their phone leads.
- Set Call Conversion Requirements: SMBs can set conversion requirements for their sales teams, resulting in better qualified leads and greater marketing/sales alignment. Small businesses can provide valuable feedback to their sales reps in order to increase their effectiveness.
- Integrate Your CRM & Analytics: When data is viewed in conjunction with online analytics, businesses can gain a holistic view of their advertising spend, allowing them to see what is working and eliminate what isn’t. These insights help businesses significantly lower cost-per-lead, convert calls into qualified leads and increase the ROI of marketing efforts.
3) Are Your Customers Engaged?
Thanks to social media the customer breaking point is lower than ever before, leading them to ditch a brand if they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, just one bad instance of customer service can cause customers to leave a brand as soon as that day! That’s according to the latest data from the latest Customer Engagement Index from 7, which reports 80 percent of survey respondents would leave a company within a week of receiving poor customer service—while 50 percent would leave the same day!
Kathy Juve, 7’s CMO offers these tips for improving your customer engagement:
Simplify and offer smart interactions: In the age of Siri and Google, customers expect easy access to the answers they need. This is where businesses need to adopt technology that support simplified and smart customer interactions, especially web self-service options that allow consumers to complete their journeys as effortlessly as possible. Businesses need to use the data they have to be “smart” and know what the customer wants to do. With 4 out of 5 customers reportedly leaving a brand after just one negative experience (according to 7’s Customer Engagement Index), a productive and positive customer service process can make the difference in customer retention and overall business success.
Support the cross channel experience: Companies can no longer depend on legacy self-service call systems (IVR) as the end-all, be-all for customer service. In fact, 7’s Customer Engagement Index noted that 2 out of 5 customers have broken ties with a company, because of frustrations with a legacy IVR. Today, the average consumer uses different channels (website, chat, phone call) and devices (laptop, smartphone and maybe a tablet) to reach your brand. Developing communication strategies that resonate across all channels is imperative. These strategies also need to support seamless transitions allowing consumers to switch across these channels without having to start over every time they interact with your brand.
Other top insights from the Customer Engagement Index included:
- You don’t want to be like the nation’s cable providers, which are ranked the worst offenders with a survey customer satisfaction score of 2.96 out of 5, and 25 percent of respondents noting they’d left a company in the past year due to poor customer service
- The retail industry earned a customer satisfaction score of 3.65 out of 5, but was still noted as the #2 market where respondents left due to poor customer service
- 33 percent of the survey respondents broke ties with a company because they were being forced to wait too long to speak to a live agent on the phone.
4) Best Proposal Tools
Proposal software is designed to streamline and automate the proposal process for sales operations. They can be used for generating quote documents, proposals, as well as respond to RFP questions, and companies of all sizes utilize proposal software for their sales teams.
To qualify as a Leader, a product must receive a high customer satisfaction score and have substantial market presence. No Leaders were named in this report.
TinderBox earned the highest ranking for overall user satisfaction and was one of four platforms to earn High Performer (high satisfaction score and small market presence). Other products named High Performers included Qvidian, QuoteWerks and Drawloop.
5) Reaching Social Influencers
Social media brand advocates can have a powerful influence on the purchase decisions of others, which makes it a promising tactic for businesses to nurture them. Predictive analytics software can provide the necessary data to help companies locate the right influencers and craft engaging content that turns them into brand advocates.
Software Advice surveyed both social media marketers and advocates to determine how predictive analytics can be used by SMBs to identify quality social media influencers, connect with them and generate the type of content they are most likely to share as advocates for your brand.
- 46 percent of marketers surveyed struggle to identify and communicate with social media influencers.
- Another 46 percent struggle to predict the preferences and behavior of social media influencers.
- Although they struggle making predictions about social media behavior68 percent of marketers aren’t taking advantage of predictive analytics software.
- 27 percent of marketers feel challenged by advocates’ privacy concerns, but 75 percent of advocates say they are comfortable being approached by brands.
- Advocates prefer to share brand posts on entertaining stories (27 percent), products they recently researched (23 percent) and contests or giveaways (22 percent).
6) Websites Continue to Grow
The latest Domain Name Industry Brief from Verisign research shows that at the close of Q1 2015:
There were 294 million registered domain names worldwide
6 million domain names were added to the Internet in Q1 2015, equating to a growth rate of 1.9% over Q4 2014
Worldwide registrations have grown by 17.8 million, or 6.5%, year over year
There were 133 million .COM and .NET TLDs; 117.9 million for .COM, and 15.1 million for .NET
7) Student Entrepreneurs Compete
Over 250 teenagers from 20 countries are traveling to Seoul, South Korea to compete in the 13th annual Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (“SAGE”) World Cup tournament on August 6-9. The Korean Trade and Investment Association (KOTRA), part of the Korean Ministry and Trade and Industry, will serve as the host.
There are two categories of competition. The first category is the Best Socially-Responsible Business and the second category is the Best Social Enterprise. The top three teams in each category win prize money, a trophy and bragging rights as the world’s best youth enterprise teams.
SAGE was founded at California State University, Chico in 2002 by business professor Curt DeBerg and six of his students. SAGE is modeled after interscholastic sporting events, says DeBerg, who is also SAGE’s executive director, “But instead of competing on speed, strength or endurance, we provide teens with a chance to compete based on the creativity and impact of their socially-responsible businesses.”
The SAGE program is growing. Last year, 16 countries vied for top honors in Moscow, while this year 20 countries are expected to vie for top honors. New countries include Korea, Japan, India, Kenya, and Iran DeBerg says, “Iran is our second Islamic country. Teen innovation through entrepreneurship is one solution to reducing global conflict. We are breaking down religious, education and political boundaries.”
8) Getting Better Results from Twitter
Using Twitter can be difficult for many small businesses since you need to get your point across in 140 characters. SocialCentiv, the software that makes it easy for businesses to find new customers on Twitter, says it can help make the process easier.
“We found that people aren’t Tweeting because they don’t know what to say and they’re afraid of saying something inappropriate,” says Bernard Perrine, SocialCentiv’s CEO and co-founder. “Now when our subscribers are at a loss for words, they can borrow some of ours!”
SocialCentiv has added a “suggested reply” feature making it easier for a subscriber to reply to potential customers’ Tweets. The list of about 150 suggestions, arranged by category, came from an analysis of existing Tweets.
To compile a credible suggested reply list, SocialCentiv’s team analyzed thousands of existing Tweet replies and categorized them in one of five sections: invite, agree, celebrate, support and sympathize. Each section has about 30 suggestions to help craft a perfect reply.
SocialCentiv scans Twitter for keywords related to a subscriber’s product or service, and pulls relevant Tweets onto a dashboard so the marketer can “@” reply with a coupon or discount. SocialCentiv’s geotargeting technology makes sure that the prospects’ Tweets are in the neighborhood.
“Effective Tweets can boost business by creating the highest engagement with followers and build a devoted fan base,” says Perrine. He offers other helpful hints to bring in the business:
- Keep it short. You may have 140 characters to use, but studies show Tweets with less than 120 characters are more likely to be read.
- Develop your brand voice. Your Twitter handle should do more than advertise discounts. Reflect a professional voice. Be positive, engaging and conversational. Offer perspective or insight, even when Retweeting, to make your post stand out.
- Encourage interaction. Images, links and hashtags attract interest and trigger involvement. In fact, simply request an RT (Retweet) in the original Tweet!
- Keep Tweet volume low. Tweet less than 6 times a day and only once an hour.
9) Local Mobile Solutions
1app, which offers mobile solutions for businesses, just announced a new mobile app and proximity messaging platform connecting consumers with their favorite local businesses. 1app helps local businesses fight back against malls, big brands and e-commerce by giving them complete control of their mobile identity and the tools to extend customer relationships beyond the physical world. Customers using the app get insider information, special offers, and VIP treatment in their favorite neighborhoods.
“While there seems to be an app for just about everything, we noticed there aren’t many good quality apps for local real-world places like hotels, retail shops and restaurants,” says Cliff Boro, the executive chair of 1appWorks. “These SMBs are being left behind in an increasingly mobile world, so we created one app where people can follow all the places they love.”
The platform offers:
- 3 types of mobile messaging: Businesses can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time—in the business, in the neighborhood, and beyond. Creating messages is as simple as posting to a social network.
- A proximity-based loyalty program: The platform includes a seamless rewards program that allows customers to earn loyalty perks automatically by visiting the business, following the business, and sharing content.
- Real-time insights into who is in the business: Each participating 1app business is equipped with Bluetooth beacons, enabling employees to identify loyal customers or VIPs in real-time and provide special service.
The company is currently conducting pilots in North Park in San Diego and the Mission District in San Francisco.
10) Reduce Storage Volume
CloudBerry Lab™, a vendor of backup and management solutions for public cloud storage services, just announced the availability of CloudBerry Dedup Server™, a data deduplication solution for Windows Server. The solution can reduce storage volume requirements by up to 90 percent for SMBs backing up their data to the cloud and allows IT services resellers to make their managed backup offerings even more attractive to SMBs. Working in conjunction with CloudBerry Backup, the solution deduplicates backups and can be used with multiple cloud-based data storage platforms.
CloudBerry Dedup Server processes all data received from client workstations and servers to scan for blocks of data identical to what has already been archived. Once it identifies a block of identical data, it discards that block and instead uses a reference to the identical block already in storage. After deduplication is completed, all data is moved directly to a customer’s cloud storage account.
Alexey Serkov, CTO at CloudBerry Lab says, “The intelligence we’ve built into CloudBerry Dedup Server significantly enhances the value proposition represented by cloud backup solutions for both SMBs and IT services resellers. For SMB users, it makes the process much more affordable, while resellers can make their managed cloud backup offerings much more efficient and competitive.”
CloudBerry Dedup is available for download now. It comes with a free 15-days trial and is available as a perpetual license per server for $299.99.