Articles By Kim Deppe

Three Reasons for Your Small Business to Go Cashless

close up view of cashier scanning bar code on a phone

When was the last time you pulled out your wallet and paid with cash? There is no denying that fewer people are paying with cash. And, with the onset of COVID, fewer people are comfortable handling cash. The terms digital wallet, online and mobile banking are now familiar and these forms of cashless payment are trusted by consumers across the U.S.

Businesses are eliminating cash registers and coin rolls in favor of a safer, more streamlined payment process. And with fewer consumers carrying cash, this might be the time to consider taking your small business cashless. The benefits to this cashless craze are easy to digest. It helps your business processes run smoother, makes your job easier as an owner, and can provide an overall better experience for your customers.

Here are three reasons why your small business should consider cashless transactions:

Lower risk of theft – It is doubtful that you stash your money in a mattress at home. So why keep oodles of money on hand at your business? There are very real security risks associated with having large quantities of cash onsite as robberies are still a common crime. When you no longer keep cash on-hand, the risk of robbery goes down – helping keep your business, your employees and your customers safe.

Gains in efficiency – As your dad used to say, “time is money”. Using digital systems takes much less time to process payments. For businesses that sell to consumers, this helps to cut wait times and can increase in the number of transactions a volume-based business can process in a day. Another benefit is fewer manual daily, monthly, weekly and yearly processes. Say goodbye to physical counting, calculating, balancing or recording of your books every night, and forget those daily bank deposits. This can equates to fewer manual mistakes and more time to focus on what really matters for your small business.

Simpler tax filing
Digging receipts out of your purse, wallet or desk drawer will become a thing of the past. Most banks, credit unions and credit cards offer programs that allow you to create a budget, track your expenses and view your account in real time. But even better, these programs can automate your tax processes making it easier to capture, tabulate and categorize your yearly information come tax time.

While there are definite benefits to going cashless, there are a few things to consider before going totally cashless.

  • Consider what percentage of your demographic pays in cash.
  • Would cashless commerce help or hurt the majority of your customers?
  • Can you afford to lose a percentage of your customers?
  • Can you afford to pay the fees that come with credit and debit card transactions?

The bottom line: Know your customers’ preferences and weigh the benefits of going cashless against its costs. Make the transition only if the upside clearly outweighs the extra expense and possible risks for your business. Looking for more ways to move your small business forward? Deppe Communications can help your small business succeed. Click here for more information.

The Importance of Marketing Data For Your Non-Profit

people going over charts and marketing data on a laptop

Working for a non-profit means you wear many hats. From fundraising to financial management to filing – you do it all! You know that gathering marketing data is key to furthering your mission, but you might struggle on how to gather the data and how to use it successfully. The good news is you may be gathering data and not even know it. And even more importantly using that information in the right way isn’t as hard as you think.

You won’t dispute that gathering data is vital to the success of your nonprofit. Data can be used to find new donors, increase donations from existing donors, and help you figure out where your fundraising should be targeted. Social media and online advertising is a necessity for nonprofits, and it one of the easiest ways gather marketing data.

If you have been in the non-profit game for a while (or even if you are new to the industry), you know building strong relationships is the foundation of a successful and relevant non-profit. There is a good chance that a large part of your job focuses on transitioning non-donors to becoming advocates and finally becoming donors. As these relationships grow, you touch your audience in a variety of ways – online campaigns, events or social promotions. Each of these touchpoints gives you the opportunity to gather data.

There are tons of ways to gather the information you need. Here are just a few examples:

  • Host or sponsor an event: Gather registration data, communications preferences, and more.
  • Share a personal story: Build awareness through compelling storytelling via social media.
  • Encourage others to share their stories for additional social data.
  • Website engagement: Use analytics on your website(s) and app(s) to understand who is interacting with your content.
  • Questionnaires and Surveys: Ask questions to gather relevant information and to gauge the pulse of your audience.
  • Keep in touch with your advocates: Use newsletters and encourage your biggest supporters to re-share posts and stories as well

All you need to know is the data is right at your fingertips – the trick is using it to its full potential. Marketing data can help find new donors, increase donations from existing donors, or even find out where and how donations should be applied. It’s easy to forget how important it is to take advantage of your online presence and branding to grow awareness, increase your donor base and boost donations.

Every piece of data you collect can influence your campaign and its success. The important thing is to start collecting it and using it to your advantage. If you want to learn more on how to use data or improve your social media presence, click here.  Deppe Communications has more than 25 years of experience in helping non-profits reach their potential and further their mission.

What Are You Doing To Prepare For a Post-COVID Recovery?

Man's hand with concept of new or next normal digital transform in industry business, disrupt from coronavirus, covid crisis impact to small business or SME. Turn to next normal in financial concept.

5 Ways To Plan for a Post-Pandemic World

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on small businesses and nonprofits has been severe. Many have not survived, while others continue to struggle with a reduced business flow, loss of income and uncertainty about the future. At six months in, many small business owners are finding they have more time on their hands. But it may be a good time to review your marketing. Here are a few ideas about things you can do to prepare for the post-COVID recovery – whenever it may occur.

  1. Review your business model to see if you want or need to make changes. The need for social distancing has created an era of digital meetings and finding new ways to connect with employees, customers, boards, etc. Everything from manufacturing to restaurants to B2B companies are evolving to a new digital world, and it may require an investment of resources for your company. I found an excellent article on preparing for the recovery that has detailed and helpful information. 
  2. Check your website. Go through the website from head to toe looking for broken links, misspellings, typographic errors, grammatical problems, etc. Take the opportunity to add fresh content and make sure the navigation is easy to use. The user experience (UX) is one of the most important influences on your customers. Web design trends are constantly changing, and we are seeing more 3D, geometric shapes, and dark mode influences in 2020. If you don’t have a website, call or Email me. I can help you get started.
  3. Review your marketing materials. If you have brochures, palm or rack cards, business cards, giveaway items, posters, etc., review them carefully. Again, check for grammar and spelling, as well as content to see if you need to update them. Also consider whether they are working for you – do they generate leads or business? Investing your resources in marketing materials is smart, but only as long as they are serving a purpose. 
  4. Study up on your industry to find out what’s new. In the busy world we’ve left behind (for now), it could be difficult to keep up with marketing trends in our own industry or vertical. There wasn’t much time for reading or learning new things. But this pandemic pause can be an opportunity to do just that. Professional publications and marketing blogs can bring you up to date on what is working, what is coming, and what you should know about marketing.
  5. Lastly, take some time for social media. Visit platforms that you don’t usually frequent. Don’t use Tik Tok, Instagram or Pinterest? Take time to visit each of these. Find out how many people use these platforms, and what the demographics are. Each social media site has a different audience and use different media. Review your business social media use and determine whether you need to make changes to reach your target audience. Here is an article that may help you learn about popular platforms.

Now that you have a little more time, take the opportunities presented to really think about your marketing. Review the budget, the materials, target audiences and your philosophy. Challenge yourself on whether you are using the best approach, and be willing to make changes if not.

The Best Ad Strategies for a Local Small Business

Many small businesses are struggling in the era of COVID-19, and site or cart abandonment doesn’t help your bottom line. If you’re getting lots of looks but nobody is clicking that “confirm purchase” button, it may be time to reach out in a new way.

Turn a Browse Into a Sale

The world of online shopping has a few behemoths and many more small players. If your small business is struggling to build a healthy online presence, you may have to get information out to shoppers in a different format. For example, you can turn a site abandonment into a Completed Purchase by targeting prospects with a direct-mail coupon, free shipping offer, or another promo.

If your online store sells apparel and accessories, consider sending out a direct mailer that offers a free scarf or pocket square with the purchase of a cardigan or shirt. For those who sell kitchen tools, offer a free tablet stand with a minimum purchase. Free shipping has become something of a given, but perhaps you could offer a standard shipping upgrade with an overnight upgrade for a minimum purchase amount.

What Stops Shoppers

Many shoppers are on pretty tight budgets these days, and the uncertainty of our collective future has many people sealing up their wallets pretty tight. To avoid this crunch, make the checkout process as easy as possible. If a shopper has items in their cart, offer them a discount via pop-up for completing their account set-up. Such a discount would not only make sure that you capture their information regardless of sale at this point, but their next check-in and purchase will be simpler.

The act of having to go and get their wallet or credit card information can be the point at which a shopper abandons their cart. By taking away this need to act on that step, you make buying easier.

Be Upfront About Fees

If you’re offering free shipping over a particular dollar amount, place that on every email and banner on your site. Be honest about your handling charges and the reason for them, such as a packaging charge. Hidden fees that show up on the last screen before checkout are the fastest way to sour a potential deal and damage a relationship with a potential customer. Not only won’t they buy this time, but they may not come back.

Promote Your Size

If there are fees that you must include for your bottom line, such as a crating charge for a piece of handcrafted art, explain why. If you do blown-glass Christmas ornaments and need to package them in spray foam, let people know that there is an unavoidable shipping charge. Invite them into your brick and mortar store with a promotional mailer.

While you’re promoting your size, don’t scrimp on photography or your website design. Getting someone in to take world-class photos of your one of a kind pieces will make your packaging fees or whatever extra charges you have to add to your selling process completely worth it. You’re not just promoting a small business; you’re promoting the sale of a one of a kind item that can be enjoyed only in their home.

Do Video Very Well

Unless you’re offering classes to the general public, be careful with DIY video promotions or how-to tutorials on YouTube. First of all, videos can go viral for all the wrong reasons, and unless you’ve got the help of a skilled videographer, rough video promotion can actually work against you. Even a video commercial can draw the wrong attention in our “gotcha” culture.

Put your focus on the tasks you can most easily manage that take little time and are easily repeatable. One video will take a lot of time, and even then the results may not be as good as you want. A single photoshoot of your product, your store, and your people can give you promotional material that can be used over and over again. If you really want video, put in the time and hire an expert to help.

The pandemic has forced many of us to change how we work and do business. Current indicators are that a return to “normal” is unlikely. To get your products in front of the public and complete the sale will take creativity and focus. Be ready to share your story as a small business owner.

 

Guest Post by Amy Sloane, freelance writer. Reach her at AmySloaneWriter@gmail.com

 

4 Quick Small Business Marketing Tips to Boost Your Business

marketing concepts written inside gears

As a small business owner you have lots of responsibility. I get it. I own a small business myself. If you are like me, there is a good chance you wear more than one hat – from Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). That’s a lot of hats for just one head. Naturally, as the CEO and CFO budget and profitability top the list of your business concerns. But trust me, to truly achieve success, you can’t neglect your CMO responsibilities.

Here are a few small business marketing tips I’ve implemented that have helped me and my clients focus on promoting our businesses in a way that is budget-friendly, productive and profitable. And by the way, this applies to Nonprofit Agencies just the same.

Tell your own UNIQUE brand story:

Telling a brand story is like telling your life story. It should be emotional, relatable, and authentic reflecting what your brand represents.  This is your chance to share why you are a small business owner, what your business can do for your customer and what your business stands for. Your story should engage your customers and draw them in making them feel part of your brand.

Create the right content:

You have heard it before . . . content is king. Well, it’s true. Once you have created your brand story, content is the conduit to sharing your story via your website and social media platforms. There are a few things I always consider when creating content.

Know what type of content your audience wants. This is can be guided by what your product/service offers. In general, customers want to understand the benefits of your product/service. But just listing the benefits isn’t enough.

Remember that brand story? Make sure the tone and type of your content aligns with your story. Everyone is inundated with information (and choices) these days. Make sure your content is relevant, reliable, educational, and even entertaining. Having the right content differentiates your business making it stand out.

Focus on the most powerful marketing channels:

As a small business owner, you know that you can’t be everywhere at once. The same goes for marketing your small business or nonprofit. Rather being on every social media platform, go where the majority of your customers are.

If your product/service is focused on business owners (in other words, you are a B2B company), LinkedIn is a good bet. If you have a bakery, Instagram could be the perfect channel to showcase images of your delicious creations. Or, if you have a Food Truck or provide a service, Facebook might be the best way to actively and frequently update your customers on special offers. When planning my social media strategy, I allow audience, content and budget drive the social media channels I use to market my business. 

Bring your brand to life via video:

Video content is a great way to bring your brand to life. By nature, we are visual creatures – why else do we spend so much time entertaining ourselves by watching videos of animals, life hacks, and people doing generally ridiculous things?

Video allows you to connect with your audience in a very direct way allowing your customers to get to know your product/service and you! This brings us back to content. While it is important for your video to be engaging and entertaining, the content should also relay specific information such as product/service information or educational information to help your customers.

Marketing isn’t difficult, but it is multifaceted. Building the right marketing mix means that all of these elements must come together; they don’t work well independently. If you are reading this and thinking, “What do I do with this information?” email me or give me a call at  904.524.0170. Together, we can determine the smart move for your small business.

5 Ways to Get Your Business to Thrive During Hard Times

No matter if you’re dealing with the coronavirus or some other hardship, many people’s businesses are suffering. If your business is struggling to stay afloat, you may be wondering what to do next. Don’t let hard times and uncertainty ruin the start of your amazing business, there are quite a few things you can do to help your business thrive during these hard economic times. In fact, this list below highlights five specific actions you can take.

1. Assess Your Situation

Take time now to determine any shortfalls that are hurting your business. You might already have those weaknesses identified. If you’ve already done this, have you really looked at every moving part? Have you analyzed your own potential shortcomings? Even more during hard times, you must pay attention to all the specifics.

Without a real assessment of your situation, you might be tossing plans to the wind. Because if you aren’t honest about your company’s areas for improvements, then mistakes are likely to creep up again. Also, don’t forget to seek honest and open feedback from your employees. They likely want your business to excel, too, and they might have some really good ideas for you.

2. Focus on Communications

Be sure to remember that communications are a very important moving part of your business. You have both external and internal communications that must be solid. Prioritize your company’s communication strategies being in sync with your business’s needs.

You might want to look into software that can streamline your communications processes. Certain workplace communication products come with technologies you can find to be very user friendly. You also should be able to lock in a service agreement.

3. Utilize Social Media

Speaking of communications, be certain that you use social media to your advantage. Why wouldn’t you? Many of your social media platforms have free marketing tools you can use. Also, if you are dealing with something like COVI

group of business people celebrating

D-19, for example, you need to pay even more attention to getting the most out of your social media accounts.

If you don’t have a strong social media presence, yet, here are your basics. Make sure you at least have accounts established on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Tiktok and YouTube could help you out, too. Use high-res photos and videos and with every post. Be certain your posts include a call to action and don’t ever ignore user comments and messages.

4. Address Any Tech Issues

Without a strong information technology (IT) network in place, you can jeopardize your success. Your tech products have to work, and you also need to be sure your bandwidth is strong. Should you already have a tech staff, you might want to hire them additional help.

IT consultants could do a lot for your business. Even from remote locations, they can stay on top of your IT. You limit your chances of cyberattacks happening, and your productivity could go up, too. If you have staff working from home or on the road, this could pay off for you even more.

5. Regularly Look at Your Data

How often do you dig deep into your data? It can tell you so much about your business. Your company can better pinpoint common mistakes. You also can more quickly remedy issues that are keeping you and your team in the weeds. Get away from preventable errors impacting the workflow of your company and look at your data every day.

In addition to seeing immediate benefits, your company can be positioned for success well into the future. Forecasting is more accurate for your staff, and you also can protect yourself from potential legal actions against your business. It’s wise to have as much proof as possible. Get a grasp of your data every day to stay ahead of the curve and survive difficult times impacting your efforts.

Your Business Can Make It During Hard Times

Don’t be discouraged. You can take the necessary actions to ensure your company makes it. Hard times do not have to disrupt your success.

With the aforementioned suggestions, you can see immediate and long-term benefits. Keep this information handy and give these tips a shot. Best wishes with your efforts.

 Guest post by Samantha Higgins. Samantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.   

How to Make Your Business Stand Out from the Competition

business men and women sitting and readingLearning how to set yourself apart from your competitors can help your business reach new heights and establish itself as a leader in your industry. Some simple changes to how you conduct your business can garner more positive attention from potential new customers and keep you operating longer. Here are some of the best ways to make your business stand out from the competition.

Study Your Competition

Knowing what your competitors are doing to run their businesses and market themselves can help you find ways to differentiate your business from theirs. You might find ways to improve on solving problems that these businesses try to solve. You may also be able to target a different demographic that’s often overlooked by competing companies. Other ways to learn about your competition so that you can make your business unique from theirs is to run analytics tests of their websites and speak to former employees who might be willing to give you additional information.

Keep Your Premises Tidy

Whether you run a store, a restaurant, or another type of business where customers frequently visit, you’ll want to keep your premises tidy at all times. Some businesses overlook this, and you can help your business earn a more positive reputation by making sure that no trash pileups or other filth buildups are anywhere on your property. Professional cleanings should be done regularly to keep your business looking its best. C and D Services a company that provides parking lot sweeping Dallas TX tells us that power sweeping keeps dust and dirt and trash from piling up on the property – keeping it more sanitary, improving the aesthetics, removing trip hazards, and ultimately increasing the value of the property.

Improve Your Customer Service

Customer service can make or break a business, and making the extra effort to ensure that each customer receives the best service possible can help set you apart from other companies. People who are dissatisfied with the service that they received from your competitors may also be more inclined to become new customers if your business has built a reputation for delivering outstanding service. You’ll want to make sure that all staff members who deal with the public receive thorough customer service training that includes how to deal with customer complaints effectively.  couple in flower shop

Feature Regular Promotions

Deals, free giveaways, and other promotions can get more people interested in your business. Promotions that save people money can be especially good for many of your customers who are likely on tight budgets. Another promotional idea is to start a customer loyalty program that offers freebies or other perks to your most loyal customers. You’ll definitely want to run promotions around holiday seasons when many of your competitors are likely doing the same to try to attract more customers.

Practice Corporate Social Responsibility

One of the best ways that your business can show corporate social responsibility is by supporting various charities, and this can also help differentiate your business from others. As Forbes.com explains, there are many corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that can help give customers better mental impressions of your business and can also promote better goodwill and increase your profits. You might choose to support charities that feed the homeless, provide medical care to underprivileged people, or rescue animals.

Communicate on a More Personal Level

Some of your competitors may be treating their customers more like numbers than people, and you can garner more positive attention by finding ways to communicate with people on a more personal level. One of the best ways to go about this is to answer customer emails with customized replies instead of standard messages. Starting a newsletter and delivering new editions to customers’ email inboxes on a regular basis can also make your business seem more personable. Social media can additionally be used to communicate with customers directly so that they can feel as though they’re being treated more as respected individuals.

Go Green

Many people nowadays are more conscious about the environment, and taking measures to reduce your business’s negative impact on the planet can help increase your company’s profile. Using recyclable materials and finding ways to reduce your business’s output of harmful emissions can help you run a greener business that’s more environmentally responsible than your competition. Switching to solar power or another alternative energy source is another option to consider if you want to outdo your rivals.

Standing out from the competition doesn’t always have to be a difficult task. By implementing these methods for your business, you may yield great results along with bigger profits than your competitors.

Guest post by Samantha HigginsSamantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.             

 

An Easy Facebook Hack To Add New Followers

It is getting more and more difficult to add followers on your Facebook business page without purchasing boosts or advertising. But there is one simple way that you can reach out to people who have already engaged with your company, but are not yet following you. As you look at your Facebook posts, you’ll see the number of Likes show up under each post. Like this:

If you hover over that, you’ll see a drop down list of everyone who liked the post, like this

Click on that list to open it up and you’ll see something like this:

Wherever you see the Invite box, that is someone who has not yet followed you, so click the box and the individual will receive an invitation from your page to follow you. It is a free and easy way for you to increase your followers, and keep an eye on the engagements for your posts as well.

How to Run Your Business From Anywhere

Working Virtually Can Be An Advantage

More and more people are opting to work away from the office. And since the Coronavirus has caused the need for businesses to be able to still run while everyone is working from home it’s more important than ever. Thanks to new technology and changing corporate culture, working from anywhere is easier from ever. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you would want to be location independent with your work. laptop on desk with someone typing

You can see the world

While you may be quarantined for now, in the future if you want to travel you will be able to still have effective business communication even if you’re out of the country. When you can work from anywhere, you can explore the world to enjoy better experiences. For instance, you can work from an exotic island, make money while camping in Maine, and acquire new income from an exotic city in Asia. This type of location independence may lower your stress level and free you from living inside of a cubicle a third of your life.

You can network better

When you are location independent, you can network better which can increase your income. For instance, let’s say you live in a small city in the middle of the United States. You can make a month-long trip to New York, Los Angeles or Silicon Valley and talk to new people and gain new connections. These new connections can lead to big business opportunities.

You can optimize your spending

The great thing about being location independent is that you can work in cheaper places and really save your money. For instance, you can find a fun little place in Costa Rica, Mexico and South America to base your operations for a few months. At these locations, you can cut your living expenses by up to 75%! This can really save you money while affording you exciting new experiences.

You can spend more time with your family

Hopefully, you are getting the chance to currently spend some time with your family during this quarantine. But when this is over, if you miss your family because you are always in the office, being location independent can allow you to work from home. By working from home, you don’t have to spend time commuting to and from work. Also, you can enjoy working in a relaxing and familiar environment.

How to run your business from anywhere

Now that you understand the benefits of being location independent, we will show you the top five tips you need to know on how to run your business from anywhere. These proven tips will allow you to seamlessly move your business to any part of the world.

1. Have the right computer and wi-fi connection

Your entire business is going to run off of two things: your devices and your wi-fi connection. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you have a high-quality smartphone and computer. Before you go off to an exotic location, make sure that your equipment is in top working shape. It may be hard to have your device serviced if you are at an exotic location. Second, make sure there is a strong wi-fi connection at the location before you go. Investing in a wi-fi hotspot can help you have a great connection almost anywhere. It will be hard to run your business if you have a slow connection or if the wi-fi is unreliable.

2. Make sure you properly schedule your working time

When you move across time zones, you will want to make sure you can still stay in contact with your clients, vendors, and employees. For instance, if you move from the United States to Asia, you may have to change your working schedule so you can stay connected with your clients in North America.

3. Ensure your credit card and business accounts don’t get suspended

Chances are, you need to keep your ad accounts, credit cards and vendor accounts active while traveling. Many of these accounts will flag activity that jumps from country to country. Make sure you contact all of your vital accounts of your travels before your accounts get suspended. Once your accounts are suspended, it could take days or weeks to get your credit card or ad account back online.

4. Watch your cash flow

While you are traveling, you will want to watch your cash flow. Sometimes, your travels may take your eye off the financial ball. You don’t want to be stuck half-way around the world with cash flow problems. Make sure you have enough money and cash flow to stay in business during your travels.

Summing things up

Thanks to today’s technology and many small business services, it is easier than ever to work anywhere in the world. Remember to be well organized before your travels and your location independent business will thrive.

Guest post by Samantha Higgins. Samantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.   

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