Small Business News: ROI Realities

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To understand how to run a small business is to understand ROI. That is, we must understand how to bring a return on investment for every decision we make when pushing our enterprise forward. Small businesses are about delivering the most value with the least cost but this isn’t to say that low cost is the only goal. Knowing what you are getting from the investments you make is critical to small business success. In every decision, look for the value you invest and the return your business reaps as a result.

Tech

Judging your upgrades. There are so many new technology tools out there. Some are valuable others are not. Before you invest time and money in changes, it’s important that you understand the return on investment you can expect, whether it’s the time to implement a new social media system or company blog or the money to hire an SEO firm or to purchase a new piece of technology. Here’s one example of a product that went the extra mile to prove its value. Demand the same from new tools you consider. CRN

Google claims high ROI for its “places” tool. The feature lets small businesses “claim” their listing and build out a “place page” all for free. As a case study, Google presents a case study and testimonial from a dentist in Bellingham, WA, on its small business blog calling the feature the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing that I do.” Not surprising when there is no cost other than the time to create and update the page. Google Small Business Blog

Social Media

So, what’s your ROI on that social media marketing? Of all the investments you could make in your business, there is probably none more contentious these days than the investment return on social media marketing. Though most of the tools are free, it is a cost most small business see either in time spent in-house to manage ongoing social media efforts or an added cost to outsource your social media management to someone else. No matter what the case, there are some sane ways to measure your return on this potentially important investment. Entrepreneur.com

ROI in guerrilla social media. Entrepreneur and social media evangelist Shane Gibson is advancing a new kind of social media ethic, one that cares less about the intangibles of clicks, visitors or other “cool factors” and more about the hard measurable results of efforts in the field. Listen to his podcast and check out the leading characteristics of this new breed of marketer. Guerrilla Social Media Marketer

Marketing

Should ROI be your only consideration when measuring PPC campaigns? It isn’t among many small businesses according to the results of an August survey by LookSmart conducted among 120 of the company’s small to medium sized business advertisers. Then what did these businesses look for in addition to actual ROI from their PPC campaigns and what might you wish to be looking for as well? Read the full story to learn more. The Lookout

Is the mobile landscape changing your e-mail ROI? It could be if an estimated 2 to 26 percent of e-mail you send to prospects or clients is ignored because it won’t display properly when viewed on a mobile device. A significant amount of your office may now be viewing and making decisions on your e-mails in a mobile format? Are you putting your business’s best foot forward in this arena?  The Lunch Pail  

Customer Service

Customers also want an ROI. We rarely think this way but maybe we should. A customer invests in our efforts by purchasing our goods and services or by spending the time to tell a friend or family member about our business and what we’ve done for him/her. In the above link, we hope that a foray into social media will mean connections and the spread of our content. If it doesn’t happen, if the customers don’t come, what does it say about the return we offer? SM4Biz

Operations

Calculating costs and savings. As important as deciding upon new investments in technology and other business related products and services that can deliver our services better or cheaper to the customer there is the return on investment for new technology and process that may save us money in operations to deliver the same service we do today at a lower cost or more efficiently tomorrow. One of these decisions looming for many companies is the switch from traditional IT to cloud computing. The calculator linked to above is only a starting point. GetApp.com

Sales

Better ROI through unifying sales and marketing. Are sales and marketing really so different? They shouldn’t be if your business is to get the best performance out of both. Remember that together these two functions of your business control how you grow and expand your market…and ultimately your revenue. Ignoring either is like paying attention to the wheels on your car but not the engine or vise versa. But how can you make them work together? B2B Marketing

SEO

ROI on keywords for your online campaign. Marketing your product through organic search might be less expensive than in the days of more traditional media, but theoretically calculating the actual return on investment whether in time or through hiring a professional SEO firm is also more easy to calculate than, say, the impact of a prominent spot during a Super Bowl broadcast. Here are some basics for figuring the value of keywords in your organic search marketing campaign that should help you determine how to maximize your return. Creare Group

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  1. One of the fundamental aspects of building business capability is to have a robust business plan. Business plans are often ket at macro level with broad statements and sketchy numbers. What most plans lack is the detailed break up of the strategies that are required to get to the plan milestones. In small & medium businesses, these are often retained within the minds of the owner shareholdres and dosent get disseminated to the the managers executing the strategies. In some cases the plans are extremely short term. An ideal plan would be over a 5 year horizon with very detailed action plans for the first year and startegic milestones for the next 4 years. It is like building a house. Can you imagine building a house with no drawings. You start with one pillar and then it goes on and eventually becomes an unmanageable structure weak in foundation, poor in design and difficult to live in. I have heard of owners wanting to increase turnover 5 times in 5 years. But aspects like assessment of manpower required to deliver the aspired revenues in a suatained manner is seldom given much actionable thought.Many of the small businesses that have been hurt in this slowdown have been businesses which have not invested time & effort in planning but who have nevertheless grown phenomenally in the last few years , but who havent addressed their systems and infrastructural capabilities during such growth. Perhaps a proper & robust planning process would have lessenned the impact of this down turn significantly.

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