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5 Reasons Your Business Should be Using Twitter

A few months ago I touched on several reasons every business needs a Facebook page. Well, that’s really just part of the social media puzzle. The other major player when it comes to social media marketing for business is Twitter. If you haven’t yet started using this tool, you’re already behind the eight ball. Don’t believe me? Here are five compelling reasons why your business absolutely should be using Twitter as part of your overall marketing strategy.

It’s Affordable – Every small business owner knows how important staying within budget is. Twitter offers a cost-effective way to build your brand, generate buzz, promote your services and build your network. In fact, it’s more than just affordable - it’s free!

It Establishes Your Brand - Search engines like Google are now using Twitter posts as part of their search results, which means that when someone searches for your business, they’ll also see what you’re tweeting about. Twitter also provides an excellent platform on which to position yourself as an expert in your field. The more valuable a resource you are, the more followers you’ll get and the more well-known your brand will become.

It Keeps You “In the Know” – If you’ve been in business for any length of time, chances are somebody on the web is talking about you. Wouldn’t you like to know what’s being said? Twitter provides simple tools that lets you search to see who’s talking and what they’re saying, and gives you the opportunity to jump in and join the conversation.

It Fosters Relationships – As a portal of communication, you can use Twitter to respond to comments about your business – good or bad – and begin to establish both your online presence and valuable relationships with your existing clients and potential new ones.

It’s Efficient – Twitter gives you another avenue through which to disseminate important announcements, manage customer service and support, deliver news and updates and more instantly and on one easy platform.

If you’re ready to jump on the Twitter bandwagon but aren’t sure exactly where to begin, here’s a quick guide to help you get started. And, if you don’t want to take my word for what an important tool this platform is for businesses, why not take a look at what Twitter itself has to say about the matter:

“Every day, millions of people use Twitter to create, discover and share ideas with others. Now, people are turning to Twitter as an effective way to reach out to businesses, too. From local stores to big brands, and from brick-and-mortar to internet-based or service sector, people are finding great value in the connections they make with businesses on Twitter.”

Can your business afford not to be part of these valuable connections?

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 12:16 PM

Employee Retention: 5 Tips for Reducing Workforce Turnover

You don’t need to be in business long to understand how costly employee turnover can be. Every time you have to go through the process of recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training it costs your business both time and money (if you want to know just how much, check out this online calculator). So how exactly do you locate and build a team of talented workers that will be loyal to your business and committed to the long haul? Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you reduce employee turnover.

Be selective. No matter how eager you are to fill that role, hiring the first candidate that waltzes through your door probably isn’t the best idea. It’s important to take your time and be thorough, from carefully wording your job listing to taking the time to read through cover letters and resumes to calling references. The more you do your homework, the better your chances of hiring the right person for the job.

Start on a trial basis. It’s completely acceptable in the business world to hire an employee for a specified trial period to see if the role is a good fit for both of you. Implement a time period, such as 90 days, during which you and the employee can get acquainted and his or her performance can be measured. This way you can avoid investing in someone who either isn’t a good fit or isn’t likely to stay.

Provide growth opportunity. While your new employee may be perfectly content with her job duties when she’s first hired, chances are she’ll eventually be looking for the opportunity to grow in her position. Most people don’t want to stay in the same role forever. By providing advancement opportunities for your employees, whether it’s added responsibility within their present role or promotions to new, more challenging positions, your team will be more loyal and more likely to stick around.

Offer flexibility. These days more and more businesses are beginning to offer their employees the option of working remotely or flexible hours. This has been shown to greatly increase employee morale, which directly relates to higher retention rates. Allowing your team to take turns working from home isn’t as complicated as it may seem, particularly with today’s technology. For instance, things like cloud computing and virtual phone systems help everyone to stay connected and on task, regardless of physical location.

Provide good benefits. This means much more than just traditional health, dental and retirement benefits. Employees want to feel valued and respected. Allowing for ample time off and providing other perks such as a weekly free lunch or employee discounts can make a huge difference when it comes to employee turnover. Be creative and think about what you would value if you were the employee. Remember, a team that is healthy and happy is likely to stay with you for the long haul.

To be truly successful in business you have to build a solid team of employees that share the common goal of doing the best they can to see your company thrive. By carefully seeking out and selecting the right candidates and then providing your workforce with a healthy and positive work environment, you’re much more likely to end up with a happy, loyal and focused team that will stick with you for the weeks, months and years to come.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 1:00 PM

5 Ways a Virtual Phone System can Make Your Business More Professional

One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is that their size (or lack thereof) can make them seem less professional. Of course, you know as well as I do that some one-man-shows could run circles around larger organizations, but in business image is everything. That’s where Synclio can help. Here are five ways you can give your business a more polished, professional image using your virtual phone system.

Toll-Free Number – Having your own 800 number can give your business a much more professional image and allow you to compete, both with larger organizations and with those in your industry that don’t yet have their own toll-free number. Show your customers and potential customers that they’re dealing with a real, solid business – not some fly-by-night firm.

Robust Phone Trees – Even if you’re the only person in the office, giving callers the option to select from a list of extensions and departments instantly gives your business the appearance of being larger, which often equates to legitimacy and trustworthiness. And with unlimited extensions, you can be as creative as you’d like when building out your phone tree.

Find Me / Follow Me – Nobody likes getting voicemail every time they call. But if you’re out on the road, tending to business how can you also be there for your callers? Advanced call forwarding features let you stay connected so that when someone tries to reach you, you’ll get the call wherever you are. Your customers will think they’re your top priority and you’ll never miss an important opportunity.

Custom Greeting – Instead of a stuffy computer generated greeting, create a more personal experience for your callers by recording your own message to greet them when they dial in. If you’re not sure you can pull it off, you can use our professional voice studio and have real professional voice talent record your greeting for you. Have a jingle? You can even incorporate that into your greeting. It’s yours to customize as you see fit.

Visual Voicemail – Traditional voicemail systems often lead to messages being missed or lost, which means opportunities falling through the cracks. Visual voicemail lets you read your messages on your computer or smart phone and organize them just as you would email, making follow up a breeze. Your customers will be impressed with how quickly their calls are returned and you won’t risk missing out on any important leads.

These are just a few of the many ways a virtual phone system can help make a business, no matter how small, appear more professional. The beauty of these systems is their versatility, which means that once you get yours you’ll probably find a dozen other ways it will enhance and benefit your company. If you’re still not sure, why not give our free trial a whirl? We're confident that you and your callers will be impressed with the added level of service and professionalism your new phone system will provide for your business.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 12:51 PM

6 Ways to Drive More Traffic to your Website

In past articles I’ve covered several reasons why every small business needs a website. I’ve also talked about some website do’s and don’ts as well as ways to ensure that you’re site encourages visitors to communicate with you. Problem is, if you’re not getting adequate traffic to your website, these tips are useless (and so is your site). After all, what good is having a perfect website if nobody’s bothering to look at it? The ultimate goal is to target prospects, attract them to your site and convert them into paying customers. Here are a few easy ways you can bring more people to your site.

The Key Word is Keywords – Simply put, “keywords” are the words or terms a person uses when they Google something. By identifying the most popular keywords used in conjunction with your particular business and strategically placing these words or phrases throughout your website and blog, you’ll better your chances that when someone searches, your business will show up at the top of the list of results.

To find targeted keywords for your business you can use one of the many free keyword tools available online (try this one from Google) and then aim to use those targeted words or phrases at least 4 times per page, particularly in headlines and subheadings. Lastly, include them in the description and title tags of your website code. If you’re not sure about this part, your web developer can help.

Make it Easy – If you want more people to visit your website, then make finding it easy. Include your URL on everything from business cards to packaging to signage. If you participate in any online writing, such as articles or guest blog posts, always include a link to your website. The more it’s out there, the better your chances of getting traffic.

Launch a Contest or Giveaway – I realize I sound like a broken record but the fact is these simple things can have a huge impact for very little investment. Contests generate excellent viral marketing (a.k.a. word of mouth marketing for the web), resulting in a significant increase in traffic flow to your website. Check out our recent post on how to run a killer contest to make sure you get the most out of this valuable tool.

Content is King – It’s simply not enough to have a static website anymore. People want a reason to visit your site, and more importantly, they need a reason to come back or share it with someone else. The easiest way to do this is by producing useful, relevant and regular content that benefits and holds the interest of your readers. A company blog that is frequently updated with keyword rich content is an excellent way to accomplish this, and as an added bonus, blog posts perform particularly well in search engine results because search engines love fresh content.

Join the Conversation – If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet, you’re most certainly missing out. The more active you are on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), the more solid of a web presence you build for your business, and the easier you make it for people to find and connect with you online.

Be an Expert – Whatever it is you do, you’re probably really darn good at doing it. One of the best ways to get exposure for your website and your business is by offering up your expertise online. Join a couple of forums or search Twitter for people who are asking questions that you can answer. By becoming a valuable resource on the web, you give yourself and your business more credibility. People will also be more likely to share and link back to your content, generating more traffic to your site.

It may take a bit of time and a lot of patience, but by putting these tactics into practice you’ll begin to see the results – a marked increase in website traffic which will hopefully translate to a boost in sales for your business.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 10:06 AM

5 Simple Ways to Handle High Level Stress

If you were to list the most stressful jobs in the world, running a small business (any small business) would surely be near the top. After all, you’re in charge, you’re probably wearing a dozen hats and you haven’t had a vacation in as long as you can remember. It’s easy to let your stress level skyrocket. But, for obvious reasons like your health and the ongoing success of your company, it’s important that you take measures to reduce your stress and anxiety. Here are five simple ways to do so.

Assess the Situation and Take Control – When you first started your business you inevitably created a detailed business plan that took into account things like growth and finances. When we lose sight of these details we begin to feel stressed. Take a step back and review your plan. Update it if need be. Take the time to assess the current state of your company, develop a clear plan for the future and take control of that plan. Once you regain that control you’ll see your stress level drop dramatically.

Schedule and Manage Your Time – It can be tempting to tackle every new problem as soon as it comes through the door, but doing so can leave you feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Develop a schedule and stick to it so that your time is managed in a way that is productive and lets you maintain your sanity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate – Your business is your baby – a concept that you nurtured and put your blood, sweat and tears into. As such, it can be hard to hand over the reins to someone else and trust that they’ll do the job as good as you. But if you continue to hoard every responsibility, you’ll quickly burn yourself out and your business will ultimately suffer. Pick a few tasks that you feel most comfortable divvying out to members of your team and let them take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Prioritize – If you start every day with a huge list of things to accomplish but no clear direction on what’s most important, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Create a to-do list which lists the items in order of importance. Then, just tackle each thing on the list consecutively. That way if you don’t get to everything you wanted to, at least you’ll know the most critical tasks were taken care of.

Be Positive – I know it sounds cliché, but a positive attitude can make a huge difference in your overall mental health. If you feel dragged down by the day to day drudgery of things, take a few moments to reflect on why you started your business in the first place. This will help reignite the passion that you once had and give you the motivation to keep pushing forward.

While there’s no magical formula to take away all the stress that goes along with running a small business, these five simple steps can help you manage your emotions and stay positive so that you (and your company) can avoid a disastrous burn out and survive to see another day.


posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 6:57 PM