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11 Genius Ways to Enhance Your Curbside Appeal

You guessed right. Curb appeal IS critical to the success of your store.

Nearly 95% of customers say that the external appearance of a store is one of the primary influences on their decision about where to shop.

Having said that, how exactly do you improve the appearance of your store? Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following 11 tips to boost your small business’s curb appeal.

Add Some Greenery

Hanging flower baskets or planters at either side of the door adds elements of color and greenery to the entrance and makes the store look well-maintained.

Invest in a Welcome Mat

A tiny, affordable change that makes every customer feel super welcome.

Rebrand

If you’re revamping your storefront, maybe consider refreshing your branding at the same time. This is the perfect way to signal a new start for your company.

Refresh Your Signage

Peeling paint and faded colors show your customers that nobody cares about the store. As a result, why should they care about it? Invest in a new sign and change that impression.

Add a Splash of Paint

Akin to replacing your store sign, repainting walls and window frames give your store a new lease on life. It makes it look brand new, cared about and fresh, which customers will love.

Sweep the Front Sidewalk on a Daily Basis

This task should be part of every store owner’s daily routine. It takes just a moment, but instantly makes your store that much more appealing and desirable.

Inject Some Color

What better way to make your store stand out from the others from the street? Make your storefront vibrant and colorful.

Change Your Window Display(s) Regularly

Changing up your window displays can keep passers-by interested in your store and eager to see what the display will be next.

Make Your Business Clear

Any walker should be able to tell immediately what the purpose of your business is. If your signage or display doesn’t communicate this, you may need to think it through.

Remove Clutter

Clutter always looks unkempt and can be confusing for the customer. Take time to de-clutter and take out or down anything that detracts from the appeal and message of your storefront.

Clean the Windows

Every store owner should have a consistent cleaning schedule for their windows. Clean, sparkly windows make an enormous difference to the appeal of your store.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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10 Reasons Why Employees Stay With Your Company

As you know, retaining top talent and unique employees is key to long-term productivity and team effectiveness. Thus, knowing what makes people happy at work is important. Corporate Business Solutions experts lay out for us the 10 most common reasons why employees stay with your company.

Benefits and Incentives

Some of the most effective benefits and incentives are more workplace independence, development opportunities, healthcare, commuting assistance, and performance-based bonuses.

Satisfaction with the Environment

A clean and organized workplace with a lively atmosphere, ample space, and sufficient facilities is essential to maintaining employee morale. People are also integral components of the environment. Opportunity to socialize and collaborate is a big part of workplace synergy.

Financial Compensation

Payment for work, complete with bonuses and incentives, provides tremendous stability. Being open to the possibility of raises in the future with long-term tenure and continued good performance is also a motivating factor.

Inspiration for Working Smarter

You should always encourage and foster working smart rather than working just to be busy. Ultimately, this is more productive and rewarding. This approach must be present in managers who supervise without micromanaging.

Great Relationships with Leadership

Those who seek to prove themselves every single day should be praised for their work ethic. Those who may be falling behind should be offered help from management to improve their performance, which may include such things as retraining, help with skill development, or clearer performance standards as to what is expected from the employee so that goals can be achieved. Positive efforts by management to help an employee improve can help foster the internal motivation that the employee needs to perform better. Forming relationships is an important factor in a harmonious workplace.

Challenge and Excitement

People want to be engaged with challenging work that piques their interest and employs their technical and interpersonal skills. Being able to complete projects with a dynamic and well-balanced team is encouraging.

Mentorship

Learning from more experienced members of the company can make things seamless for new and less experienced employees. Mentorship is conducive to learning on the job.

Recognition

It goes without saying that everyone likes to be respected and recognized for their hard work.

Career Development

Most employees don’t want to be trapped in dead-end jobs with no prospects for advancement and doing the same thing for years. Being engaged includes new challenges to overcome and new skills to learn in order to develop as employees and people.

Work-Life Balance

Excessive overtime hinders productivity. A reasonable amount of sick leave and vacation time is motivation to take quality rest and recovery time. This ensures that employees go back to work with a rejuvenated sense of purpose and excitement to perform.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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4 Email Marketing Phrases to Avoid

Marketing professionals have to be prudent when generating emails to avoid having them be marked as spam. Marketers should send out bulk emails on a consistent basis to leads, opportunities, and customers in an effort to show people why their business’ products/services matter.

Corporate Business Solutions experts break down the following top four spam trigger words to avoid in your emails.

Multi-level Marketing

MLM refers to the practice where businesses hire people to go around and try and sell someone a product, then have that person recommend the product to others. At times this is a legitimate practice. Most of the time, however, it’s comparable to a pyramid scheme. Any business practice connected to a pyramid scheme should be avoided like the plague. Even searching “multi-level marketing” brings up suspect results, so it makes sense that any emails with the term in it will be triggered as spam.

Increase Sales

This is both surprising and not surprising. It’s hard to picture a business-to-business marketing team generating an email for thousands of potential clients and not using this phrase. However, that’s exactly why it’s often noted as spam in the first place. Context DOES matter here. This phrase will eventually come up in an email, but there are ways around it. For example, don’t use the phrase in the subject line. Also, steer clear of trying to look spammy and try these techniques instead to increase sales.

Web Traffic

If you received an email with “Web Traffic” in the subject line, would you think it’s legitimate? Increasing web traffic for an online business is absolutely critical for the success of that business. Ultimately, the more traffic your website garners, the more likely you’ll convert that traffic into sales. Spammers and scammers exploit this term because it’s something all online businesses are researching.

Free Consultation

Not many things in today’s world are actually free. Thus, this phrase immediately jumps out to just about everyone. Even if the consultation is free, there’s always a catch, and if there’s a catch, that means your marketing team isn’t being transparent to its targeted audience. Unless you’re truly offering a free consultation for potential buyers, do not advertise it as free. Plain and simple, to avoid being marked as spam, don’t put “Free Consultation” in the subject line.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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4 Awesome Tools To Come Up With Blog Ideas

Content marketing is all about helping small businesses generate website traffic, online visibility, and sales leads. As known, a business blog is a key to content marketing. But if you’re like many in a small business, you may find yourself wondering what exactly to write about.

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following four tools to help generate ideas for blog posts.

Google Keyword Tool

The entirely free keyword tool from Google AdWords is great for finding out what people are actually searching for on Google on a day-to-day basis. You can use the tool even if you’re not advertising through Google.

Of note: look for keywords that get a significant number of searches (for example, 50,000 monthly searches), but have low or medium competition. Take note of  “local monthly searches” if you specifically want to target readers in your region or area. You can also change the location to determine how keywords are performing in various regions.

Netvibes

Netvibes allows you to create a personalized dashboard so you can monitor RSS feeds, social media accounts, and even analytics for your own blog and website (all in one place). You’ll be able to add RSS feeds for your favorite blogs and news sites and check it daily.

You can add as many feeds as you desire to get vast coverage of topics. Then, you can simply scan the headlines for something in the news that triggers a blogging idea or serves as a launching point for your own piece.

Alltop

Alltop is an amalgamation of the best blogs under hundreds of topics. You can easily come up with blog ideas by browsing through the current post titles that are shown under each topic. For example, if you write on technology, there are a myriad of technology posts from which you can learn. You can also search for related topics for each heading.

Quora

Generally speaking, a good blog post often answers a burning question that many people have. Quora is a great place to identify the types of questions that business people want answers to. Quora is particularly good for business-to-business topics.

Questions are grouped under topics. Look especially for questions with a significant amount of interactivity and comments. This is generally a signal that the topic will be engaging.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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Enhance Your Content Marketing to Drive Sales

Content marketing can accomplish different things for different businesses. While some businesses use it as a way to increase brand awareness, others may use content marketing as a way to generate sales or sales leads.

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend taking the following steps toward content marketing that generates sales.

Create a Content Marketing Plan

Not having a content plan in place is one of the largest mistakes marketers make when trying to drive sales. Sure, you’re aware that you need to create content and you want to boost sales. However, that’s not enough. You need to generate a strategy for finding and reaching your target audience to get them to convert to customers.

Understand Your Target Market

In order to produce effective content, you need to know who you’re creating that content for. Have a clearly identified target audience and speak directly to that audience through your engaging content.

Know Your Customers’ Common Concerns

Customers who are reading your content rather than buying your product or service are probably doing so because they’re undecided. To help them make their decision, it’s imperative for you to answer their questions and alleviate their concerns. Fortunately, you can do that with your content, if you know what your customers’ most popular questions and concerns are.

Listen to Your Customer Feedback

Coming up with those questions to base your content around can be as easy as simply listening to your current customers. If people consistently email you with the same questions or issues over and over again, those are likely things that would make for effective content.

Take a Look at Keywords

You should always consider the keywords and searches that bring potentials customers to your website. People will often enter questions into search fields if they can’t find an answer easily. Thus, if you see common themes there, that could be another source for your content.

Make a List of Questions

You should always go one step further than just simply keeping an eye out for common customer concerns. The very first thing to do is to create a list of the top 20 questions consumers have when deciding to purchase your product or service and subsequently create content to answer all of these questions in detail.

Take a Look at the Buying Process

When generating those questions and other topics for your content strategy, it can be helpful to put yourself in your customers’ shoes through each stage of the buying process. Spend the time to really familiarize yourself with the journey people take to purchase your product and then create the content to make it easy for them to purchase.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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5 Awesome Content Marketing Strategies

While some companies use content marketing as a way to increase brand awareness, others use it as a way to generate sales or leads. Regardless of its purpose for your business, Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following five strategies for improving your content marketing.

Identify Your Target Audience

As expected, content works best when its targeted for a particular audience. Rather than aimlessly creating content without considering who your target audience is, spend time identifying your target audience and think about who will benefit most from your products or services. This will ensure the content you create on your site is more engaging and relatable for your target audience.

Use Great Visuals

The old adage of “a picture tells 1000 words” certainly carries truth today. This is particularly true in the world of content marketing. Combining the use of great visuals, whether it’s pictures, videos or infographics, with quality text, is one content marketing strategy for your website that should not be overlooked.

Having said that, one image placed at the top of a blog won’t suffice. Rather, the content on your website should be accompanied by stimulating imagery. In other words, throwing a stock image at the top of an article will not cut it. You should add relevant images throughout the article to try and keep the user’s engagement high throughout the entire piece.

Create Shareable Content

Another critical aspect of content marketing is to make the content you create on your small business’s website shareable. In other words, you want to aim to make it go viral. Generating content that encourages others to share it will inevitably drive higher volumes of traffic to your website. As you know, higher percentages of traffic results in greater leads and sales.

Create a Content Marketing Plan

Successful content marketing campaigns should always begin with a content marketing plan. This essential content marketing strategy for your small business should include mapping out potential blog titles and topics for the upcoming weeks and months. You’ll also want to include any guest blogging targets and where your content gets posted on external websites to help your small business reach a wider audience.

Share Your Website Content On Social Media

Rather than simply writing a new blog and publishing it on your website or creating a new landing page and forgetting about it, share your fresh and creative content to as many followers as possible. In addition to using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, post regular content on multiple social avenues, including LinkedIn and Google+.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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5 Amazing Email Marketing Tips

If you’re an entrepreneur who has recently launched a startup business, chances are you don’t have as much time on your hands as you want. However, investing in email marketing is an important facet of your overall marketing strategy.

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following quick and efficient ways to master email marketing, without wasting precious time.

Take Care of Your List
Many entrepreneurs get so caught up in completing the day-to-day tasks that they fail to tend to their email list. You want to make sure that you are always collecting emails and segmenting subscribers (so they get emails that mean the most to them). Without consistent campaigns, the hard work you put into building an email list is wasted.

Make Emails Mobile-Friendly
While this may seem obvious, testing your email campaigns on tiny smartphone screens only takes a quick second. After seeing how your emails look, you can either leave the emails as they are or make improvements.

As expected, if a smartphone user can’t see your emails the right way, you won’t see a high click-through rate with your mobile audience.

Only Include One Call to Action
You’ll never want to ask your subscribers to do too much in the emails you send them. This may overwhelm them and cause them to take no action at all. When you send out an email campaign, make the subject line clear with a concise and relevant copy. Furthermore, you should include one call to action for subscribers to perform.

Always Offer an Incentive
It only makes sense to give your potential subscribers something in return for their email address. People absolutely adore the thought of getting something valuable in return for their personal information. You can try offering a free e-book or a coupon to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list.

Personalize Your Campaigns
If you inquire about people’s names when they subscribe to your mailing list, you should use them when you send emails. Personalizing emails, even if just in the subject line, help build a long-lasting relationship between you and your subscribers. Ultimately, this will help improve your open rate.

Integrate Social Media
When you add social media buttons to your email campaigns, it makes it easy for people to “like” or “follow” you. This also gives them an opportunity to share their favorite content and products from your brand to those who they know and love.

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7 Great Tips For Your Email Newsletter

Establishing and building your brand is a key component of any small business. Accordingly, an email newsletter is a great tool to use to help you get there. Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following eight tips for optimizing your email newsletter.

Inform Subscribers About What They’ll Get    

You want to make sure that everyone knows what to expect right when they sign up. Tell them the type of content they’ll get and when they should expect newsletters to arrive in their inboxes. This transparency establishes a good tone and helps to build a strong relationship.

Make It Mobile-Friendly

As you know, it’s important to keep in mind how important mobile is to get your target market to read your newsletter. Reading on a smaller screen is always different than the desktop, and you’ll need to make the changes to optimize your newsletter for the iPhone and other smartphones.

Buttons should be large enough so they are easy to click and the content must be short and sweet. It’s important to keep in mind that people are reading from their smartphones on the go.

Create Engaging Subject Lines

By creating excellent subject lines, you’ll drastically improve your open rate. For example, letting them know they’ll be getting 10 useful tips on a relevant subject is a great start.

Nonetheless, keep your subject lines short and simple.

Add VERY Interesting Content

You likely already know what interests your target market the most. Thus, you should capitalize on that and include interesting content in your newsletter that doesn’t include a lot of hard sell ad copy.

In other words, you should include 90% educational content and 10% sales copy to maximize your opportunities.

Include That Personal Touch

Chances are very high that the people receiving your newsletter delete more emails than they open.  Thus, adding the first name at the beginning of your newsletter can and will make a significant difference when it comes to optimizing your open rates.

Offer Cool Stuff

Special offers are one of the biggest draws to improve your open rates. Offers can include coupons or even discounts that are only available to your email subscribers.

The special offers that you offer will go further if you only include them with a subscription to your email newsletter.

Consistency is Key

As routine-oriented organisms, people like consistency. This type of routine includes your email newsletter. Thus, it’s important to make sure that you send out your newsletter on the same day at roughly the same time.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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5 Things You’re Missing Out On By Using a Personal Email Account

Like many small businesses and organizations, it’s very possible you’re using a personal email account (like Gmail, Outlook or AOL) to either conduct your email marketing or communicate with a group of contacts. It’s also likely that you’ve noticed a myriad of limitations in what you can and can’t do with a personal email account.

Nowadays, having a business email account is a great idea for a number of different reasons. Corporate Business Solutions experts even recommend using a professional emailing service. Let’s take a look at five things you’re missing out on by not using a service for your email marketing.

You’re Not in a Position To Send Bulk Emails

As it is, many email accounts limit the number of emails that you can send at once. Thus, as your email database grows, you may face more problems with getting your emails delivered.

Email providers like Constant Contact work efficiently to maintain strong relationships with ISPs and establish reputations for sending permission-based emails.  Accordingly, people see more of their emails delivered to their recipients’ inboxes.

Believe It or Not, You’re Putting Relationships at Risk

When an individual joins your email list, they trust you to protect their personal information. Furthermore, they also trust that you’ll respect their privacy and give them an opt-out option.

When you send email using Outlook or another personal email account, mistakes certainly can happen. Often times, people make the mistake of exposing their entire list in the To: line of an email.

You’re Truly On Your Own

Email marketing services such as Constant Contact make it quick and seamless to conduct email marketing for your business. Trying to do everything on your own can offer many challenges.

A professional email service will give you the tools and training to help you get started.

It’s Difficult to Create Professionally-Looking Branded Emails

With an email marketing service, you’ll have the option to choose from hundreds of professional email templates that make it easy to generate awesome-looking emails.

You Can’t See Who Opened or Clicked

An email marketing service gives you access to in-depth reporting to analyze key metrics like emails sent, opened, who opened, who clicked through, and which links they clicked on. You’re also able to see important details like spam reports, bounces, and opt-outs.

If you haven’t already switched over from a personal email account to a professional email service, consider doing so today.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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4 Critical Steps to Growing Your Small Business

Expanding your small business is no easy feat. To be honest, it is one of the hardest challenges that people face when they are looking to abandon the 9-5 grind.

Ultimately, the success of your small business depends on your ability to increase profits using a variety of methods. From employee training to marketing, every component of your business needs the proper attention.

Sure, overnight success almost never happens. However, there is a myriad of steps you should take in order to keep your business moving forward. While it takes time and effort, you’ll soon start to reap the rewards.

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following four tips for helping your business grow.

Know Your Customers

The best way to develop successful products and services is to know what your customers want. You can achieve this through surveys and various forms of research. For example, asking them to provide honest feedback is critical. Analyzing reviews is one of the best ways to get inside the minds of your customers. As a result, you’ll be able to develop the right products and services that accurately reflect the demands of the market. Additionally, you’ll gain a better understanding as to how your company can improve.

Enhance Customer Service

Regardless of whether or not you have a superior product or service, you won’t fully satisfy your customers without a strong customer service program. Ultimately, this facet of a company is all about you taking that extra step to make your customers feel important and valued. You’ll want to address their problems immediately and also take time to answer their questions. Consider tying social media into your customer service strategy.

Exploit Social Media

There is absolutely no doubt that social media is an extremely powerful tool. Not only can it reach thousands of people at once, it keeps people engaged. Ultimately, this helps you stay relevant. Listening to your customer’s comments will help you understand how to better satisfy your audience.

Focus on Professional Development

 

It will probably come as no surprise that the success of your business largely lies in the hands of the people that you employ.

The success of your business also depends on the quality of employees that you hire. Building a successful team is the key to ensuring that your company thrives. You should always give your employees a purpose and make sure they buy into your common goal.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.