Monthly Archives: August 2017

Competing With Color Levels The Playing Field

According to the United States Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employers. There are an estimated 22 million small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the U.S. today. Such companies are constantly challenged with the need to create a huge impact in a noisy marketplace with a limited budget.

Today, affordable imaging and printing technology makes it possible to build an in-house marketing program. In fact, Revival Lighting, a vintage lighting fixtures company in Spokane, Wash., cut the cost of producing marketing materials 90 percent when they brought marketing in-house. In addition, because marketing materials can age quickly and frequently need updating, companies with the flexibility to respond on the fly will impress customers while reducing costs.

Color has become an effective, even necessary tool in marketing materials. According to a study by Loyola College in Maryland, using color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.

Bold and multicolored designs can impact people’s moods. Environmental green is considered hip and has taken on new, positive associations, while the combination of blue and floral reds has been found to evoke vintage designs and heritage, according to a 2005 study by The Color Association of the U.S.

In addition to printing materials in-house, SMBs should take advantage of inexpensive and often free marketing services that are available on the Web. For example, HP hosts an in-house-marketing portal for entrepreneurs and SMBs. It contains case studies, how-to seminars and other free tools and information, including over 200 free marketing templates ranging from brochures to an image library.

Blogs-online journals or newsletters intended for general public consumption-are another great tool for learning more about how to use color and create marketing materials in-house. To save time and money, SMB marketing guru John Jantsch, who maintains the popular blog Duct Tape Marketing, recommends that businesses create a marketing kit describing you, your company, services provided and what sets your business apart from the rest.

To improve marketing effectiveness on a shoestring budget, bring it in-house, remember to use color, take advantage of free services and seek out expert advice.

Business Basics for Catalog Retailers

Catalog retail is a world all it’s own. Many considerations that other retailers don’t have to deal with are of utmost importance to a catalog retailer. To name a few, the ordering process, warehousing and shipping must be streamlined for maximum efficiency. Maintaining a top notch inventory control and receiving department is also very crucial to business success. Above all, however, a catalog retailer must have a quality business phone system.

Considering the fact that the majority of customers will reach you over the phone, it is paramount to be able to not only handle call volume during peak times, but also to provide your customers service representatives with the features they need to do their job well. Business phone systems should be capable of not only putting your customers in touch with you, but also offer routing flexibility, voicemail and forwarding options for the administrative side of your company. Often, the difference maker for catalog retailers is not the products they sell, but the service behind those products. People who want to buy will have questions regarding an item that a simple picture and brief description will not answer. Most companies have service reps who take orders and product specialists who are familiar with the inventory.

It is essential for the product specialists to have access to a phone system that will accurately and easily allow them to receive and transfer calls between departments. After the initial contact by the sales representatives, the most common transfer of waiting customers will be to product specialists and hopefully back to the sales reps. A customer who is dropped accidentally during this transfer is likely to not call back. Additionally, customers who are made to hold for extended periods of time without an automated message thanking them for their patience are a primary example of lost revenue that could be curtailed by the proper business phone system. All in all, a well thought out business phone system is an integral necessity for any company, but it is especially important for catalog retailers.

Can accounts receivable factoring help your business grow?

Are you stuck with great but slow paying clients? It is interesting how your biggest asset (great clients) can also be your biggest liability. But that is how business is. And as an owner you must adapt.

Whether you like it or not, slow paying customers are here to stay. As a rule of thumb, commercial clients pay their bills in 30 to 60 days. And lately, the trend has been deteriorating. So, what do you do if you have slow paying receivables.

Many owners try to go to the bank to get a business loan. Not surprisingly, few business owners get business loans. As a rule, banks will only finance companies that have long and established histories. This is not your case if your company is new or emerging from tough times.

If your biggest challenge is that you cannot afford to wait up to 60 days to get paid by your customers, then the solution is accounts receivable factoring. Most commonly known as factoring, this type of financing eliminates the usual wait to get paid. It provides you with the necessary funds to pay suppliers, meet payroll and take on new business opportunities.

And how does factoring work? Simple:

1. You finish the work and send an invoice to your client. You also send a copy to the accounts receivable factoring company.
2. The financing company advances you 70% to 90% of the invoice (a small reserve is held to handle disputes, etc.)
3. You get the funds in 24 hours
4. As soon the customer pays the invoice to the financing company, they rebate the reserve (less a small fee)

As you can see, accounts receivable factoring can easily be integrated into your business, providing you with prompt invoice payments. Usually, funds are advanced within 24 hours of submitting invoices.

Accounts receivable factoring is easy to qualify for. Accounts can be set up in as little as 4 business days. As opposed to business loans, the main requirement for factoring is to do business with strong credit worthy customers. So if you do business with good commercial clients (or the government), be sure to add factoring to your business tool chest.