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The latest news and views from Simple Ways To Grow about starting a business, running a business and growing a business in UK. 


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Published on 30/05/2013 15:17 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Service sector confidence and profitability up

New research from the CBI shows that business activity within the service sector improved over the three months to May and optimism rose.

According to the CBI’s quarterly Service Sector Survey, consumer services - such as hotels, bars, restaurants and the travel and leisure industries - saw business volumes rise at their fastest pace since August 2007.

This resulted in their overall profitability rising for the first since since November 2007 – despite employee costs also rising.

In contrast, business and professional services - such as accountancy, legal and marketing firms - saw activity staying broadly flat over the quarter with overall profitability falling.

However, there is good news, with optimism regarding the business situation rose at its fastest rate since February 2010, as expectations for the next quarter are somewhat brighter.

The survey of 170 showed that both business and professional services expect solid growth in both the value and volume of business for the next quarter.

Stephen Gifford, CBI Director of Economics, said. “There appears to be a sense of growing confidence in the service sector. We’ve seen some turnaround in activity this quarter, and a more positive outlook for the next.

" However, there are concerns among firms over a shortage of internal finance and an inability to access external funding. With this in mind, CBI’s Gifford said it’s vital that growing firms look at the full range of funding options out there on the market.

He said: “Conditions remain tricky, with consumers still grappling with a squeeze on real incomes, and business confidence vulnerable to any adverse developments in the global economy.

” The Service Sector Survey was conducted between 26th April and 15th May with 108 business and professional firms and 62 consumer services firms responding.

Findings include:

Consumer Services

• Optimism about business conditions rose further on the previous quarter (+30% compared with +6%), which is the strongest increase since September 1999 (+34%) and the third consecutive quarter of improvement.

• Business volumes increased in line with expectations (+10% compared with an expectation of +11%) and similar growth is predicted next quarter (+11%).

• Profitability saw its sharpest rise (+21%) since November 2007 (+27%) and is expected to grow further in the coming quarter (+34%).

• Numbers employed fell slightly (-5%), disappointing predictions of a rise (+15%), but are expected to flatten out in the quarter ahead (+3%).

• Firms are expecting to expand their business modestly over the next 12 months (+4%).

• Planned spending on IT in the year ahead remains modestly positive (+8%, compared with +16% in the previous survey), but there has been a leap in concerns that both a shortage of internal finance (39%, the highest citation since August 2009) and an inability to raise external finance (27%, the highest citation since November 2009) will constrain capital expenditure over the next 12 months.

Business and Professional Services

Optimism about business conditions rose significantly, (+29%), at its fastest rate since February 2010 (+34%).

• Business volumes were flat (-1%), disappointing expectations of growth (+12%), but firms are confident that business will pick up solidly in the next quarter (+21%).

• Profitability fell faster than expected (-16%, rather than -7%), but is predicted to rise in the next three months (+25%).

• Numbers employed unchanged for the second consecutive quarter, but are expected to rise in the next quarter (+21%). Spending on training was broadly flat, (+1%) in line with expectations (+2%).

• Investment plans have softened for the 12 months ahead, with a little extra spend planned for IT (+8%) and land & buildings (+6%). More firms expect to expand their business over the next 12 months (+14%).

For the full survey, visit: http://www.cbi.org.uk/

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Published on 30/05/2013 14:11 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Finding customers the biggest challenge facing your business

More than half of you (53.3%) who took part in our online survey cite finding customers as the biggest challenge facing your business today.

This was followed by just keeping my business afloat (16%), while 10.5% said investing in growth was the biggest challenge and 10.% said it was getting the right people on board.

In regards to how you find new customers, 77.3% of you said it was via your website, followed closely by word of mouth (72.7%).

Despite its growth as a marketing tool, less than half of currently use social media to find new customers (40.9%) and just 39% of you currently use email marketing.Direct mail is used by 18.2% to find new customers, with just 2.3.% of you buying in prospect data.

Funding marketing activity

In terms of funding your marketing activities, 38% of you said you don’t allocate specific funds but know it’s a cost of running a business.

Just under a quarter said you don’t usually commit funds to marketing at all, while just 22.2% set aside a budget specifically for marketing. For 11% of you, marketing is adhoc and you find funds when needed (e.g. using a credit card).

More than half of you (52%) said the average annual value of customer to your business is £250, followed by between £26-£50 for 20% of you, while 15% said the average annual value of customer to your business is less than £25.

Your business profile

The majority of you who responded have established businesses, with 83% having been in operation for five years or more. Start-ups (less than one year) only accounted for 8.5% of you, 6.4% between one to two years and just 2.1% have been operating between three to five years.

Despite commentary that part-time businesses are on the rise, 89.1% of you run your business on a full-time basis. And, in terms of your industry and sector, 48% said you provide your products/services to both consumers and businesses, while 37% said just to business and 28% are targeting consumers only.

In regards to your annual turnover, 33.3.% said it was more than £250,000, 24.4% of you had an annual turnover of between £51 - £100k, 17.8% less than £20k, 16% between £101- £250k and just 9% between £21k-£50k.

Your thoughts on Simple Ways To Grow We asked you what appealed to you most about our marketing, web and money packages. Just under half (47.2%) said it was the combination of services being offered, while 33% are interested in our email marketing packages. While only 2% of you have used purchased data in the past, 27% of you said the customer prospect lists included in our marketing packages appealed to you most.

This was followed by 16.7% who said the mailshots were the most appealing part of the service and 16.7% said it was the fact it was being provided by Royal Mail. Key drivers for marketing for your business are ROI (50%) and 38.9% price. For those of you considering buying one of our packages, 36% said you haven’t yet because you are uncertain about the value to your business while 21% don’t fully understand the offer.

How we can improve When we asked you how we can improve the Simple Ways To Grow website, 44% of you said you needed more information on what’s included in each package, while 33.3% want more information on the customer data aspect. Around 5% of you would like more help in using the packages.

In regards to improve the service as a whole, 39% of you said we could improve ease of access to our services and 39% we need to improve ease of use.

Thank you again for sparing the time to give us your feedback and insight into your business.

To view the packages we offer Click Here

If you would like to speak us about our packages, or would like some further help, you can either email us at:

simpleways.support@simplewaystogrow.com

Or phone us on: 0845 605 7023

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More about: sME'S
Published on 21/03/2013 18:09 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

"RTI: If you think it's too good to be true then it probably is"

 

Earlier this week (Tuesday 19th March), HMRC announced they were extending the deadline by which some small businesses must adopt the new Real Time Information system for PAYE.

However, this is only for small businesses with less than 50 employees who pay their staff weekly (or more regularly) but process their payroll monthly!

 

Under the proposed legislative changes, all businesses were expected to start submitting their PAYE information electronically to HMRC every time they paid their staff from 6th April 2013 onwards, but some feared this would be too much of a burden for the smallest of enterprises.

 

"Click here to read the full blog from Sage One"

 

 

Sage One is a cloud-based accounts and payroll service from Sage, a Simple Ways To Grow partner.

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More about: HMRC, sage one
Published on 18/03/2013 14:10 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

20 Email Marketing tips for better campaigns

1. Plan ahead – make notes of the topics you want to cover this year, and work out if they need to correspond with any particular events or bank holidays. Set yourself deadlines for copy writing with reminders on your calendar. 2. Design – make sure your design is up to date in terms of matching your branding, and offering relevant and current quick links. Use a reputable and well experienced email marketing company for your template design so it looks good in all readers and platforms. 3. Welcome new subscribers – setup a welcome email to thank your new subscriber, tell them what/when they can expect from you, and offer links or articles they might find useful. 4. Landing pages – create a landing page on your website specifically for each campaign if possible. Combined with Campaign Reporting and Google Analytics, you can then gain valuable information on how many views the page gets and the journey of the recipient from there on. 5. Personalisation – if you are capturing certain information from your customers then make use of it! 6. Keep building and promoting your list – using social media and your blog, keep mentioning where/how to subscribe to your updates. 7. 3 second subject line – as email marketing legend goes, you have on average 3-5 seconds to catch someone’s attention with your subject line, so choose wisely! 8. Be social – add Facebook, Twitter social share and Forward to a Friend buttons to your email campaigns, to encourage them to be shared and so that more people see your email. 9. Test first – never say you do not have time to test. If you are busy then ask colleagues to help. Use NewZapp’s Spell Checker on your campaign before you send colleagues a test copy, and then ask them to proof read your content and try any links you’ve included. 10. Animated images – as you can’t use Flash or videos in email, use animated gifs instead! 11. Call to action – make sure your calls to action are clear; if necessary repeat the link further down the email to catch your subscriber’s attention. 12. Segment your data - not just by interest but also previous customers vs leads, or even by targeting customers who have purchased a certain product and might be interested in your latest offer. 13. Alt text – make sure all your images have Alt Text set on them. This text will display on screen if images are not displayed. 14. Make it easy to subscribe – keep the form short and test this before you promote the link. 15. Use the johnson box wisely - this is the area above your template where you can add copy such as an introduction to your company, a summary of your campaign contents, or an explanation of why they are receiving this email. 16. Be consistent - this goes not just for content but for the date and time you usually send out campaigns so your subscribers know when to expect it. 17. It doesn’t need to always be a newsletter – maybe send a campaign focused on one product or service that you provide, or the promotion of a special offer. 18. Monitor your reports – using the Reporting tools, look at which links were most popular and which weren’t. Work on this in your next campaign. 19. Re-engage your inactive subscribers - by sending them a campaign pointing out that they don’t appear to have opened your last email; use this information to your advantage and offer a discount if they make a purchase! 20. Stuck for inspiration? Look at our blog post titled Great examples of Email Marketing Practice. Written by Mark Taylor of NewZapp - email marketing experts and a Simple Ways To Grow partner. For more information on NewZapp visit: www.newzapp.co.uk
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Published on 23/02/2013 22:01 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Unlock the true potential of your customer data: Zest joins the Simple Ways To Grow

Our Bureau services are comprehensive and powerful; taking advantage of these services will ensure you deliver the right message to the correct individual at an economic cost.

Learn more about your customers and prospects and unlock the true potential of your data! Identify trends to assist you with prospect data targeting.

Consumer Data:

• Age

• Occupation

• Store drive times

• Income

• Property types and values

• And over 100 more!!

Business Data:

• Job titles

• Company size

• Line of business / industry

• Premises type

• Spend & budget information

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Published on 17/02/2013 22:06 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Who are your best customers?

Soon to come to Simple Ways To Grow our data partner DBS Data is introducing Zest for Simple Ways To Grow customers.  With Zest you will be able to check your existing customer data and work out who your best customers are.  You should then be able to find similar customers using our marketing packages

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More about: Know, customers, your
Published on 21/12/2012 11:22 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Wish you were here: the art of the postcard

Simple Ways to Grow partner, Docmail, has introduced a new postcard range so you can run a campaign to send postcards to customers at affordable prices that come with printing materials, handling and mailing included. Postcards are suitable for businesses of all sizes and from a range of sectors.

Make the most of the postcards for creative marketing, information campaigns and pretty much any other direct communication materials.

Postcards can be sent directly from the web using PDF's or Word Documents, in A5 (half A4) or A6 (half A5) sizes

. They are also available via an API, so you can send real mailed postcards directly from your own software or website! Find out more about Simple Ways to Grow partners Click Here

Thanks to our publishing partners Enterprise Nation for this article.

Follow DocMail @docmail

Follow Enterprise Nation @e_nation

Follow Simple Ways To grow @simpleways2grow

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Published on 30/11/2012 14:21 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Top Blogging tips and topics

Ben Barden is a blogging expert and Head of Development for printed.com. Here he offers the types of topics that lend themselves well to a business blog that will keep customers informed and engaged.

“Blogging allows you to publish your own articles with ease. Writing a blog for your business can also be a great opportunity to connect with customers, industry professionals, staff, or casual visitors.

Running a decent blog requires time and dedication. The key to getting started is to think of some topics you could write about. Here are a few to get you thinking:

• When/how/why did your business launch? You don’t have to write an essay on your 100 year history – just the highlights will do. Some readers will be curious about how your business came into existence, along with where it’s headed next. This is a good intro post.

• What makes your business stand out? Why should people care what you do or what you have to say? If you haven’t thought of this before, it can be quite difficult to write – but once you’ve done it, you’ll have a clearer sense of purpose – and you’ll set expectations for customers.

• Who works for your business? What are they like? For larger teams – this could evolve into a series of “Meet the team” style posts.

• What are your products and services? Sticking to one product or service per post can give you a lot of topics.

• Have you recently attended any events or conventions? This is your opportunity to share experiences at events in your industry, along with photos and perhaps your own review of the event. If you can find a suitable event that relates to your business, this is a great way to connect with people and also provide suitable fodder for a blog post or two.

• Special promotions: Although you may not have any of these when you start blogging, you can include them as and when they occur. Don’t expect to come up with a long list of ideas in one sitting – it can take time to put together but will be worth the investment.

Find out more about Simple Ways to Grow partners Click Here

Thanks to our publishing partners Enterprise Nation for this article.

Follow printed.com @printed_com

Follow Enterprise Nation @e_nation

Follow Simple Ways To grow @simpleways2grow

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Published on 23/11/2012 14:20 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

5 tips to make your print marketing work harder

Simple Ways to Grow print partner, Printed.com, suggests five questions to ask yourself when planning and designing print work, from direct mailings and pop-up banners, to business cards and leaflets:

What should I focus on?

It’s important to promote the benefits of your company not just the features; the modern consumer chooses a service or product based on what it can do or produce for them, not simply where it’s from or how it is made.

How should I word it?

Targeting is a key contributing factor to the success of your printed material. Focus on making the copy relevant to your specific audience and you’ll see great response as prospects are more likely to feel your business understands their needs. Try to use power words also like New, Results, You and Proven.

What action do I want the reader to take?

To make sure your print produces results, you will need to establish what response you want from your advert, and tailor it from there. Give the reader a clear call-to-action to guide them into what it is you would like them to do, such as check out a new range or apply for a quote.

Am I being consistent?

Of course a business needs to try new approaches and target new audiences, but make sure you present your company in line with other public communications, such as your website or major advertising. Using slang and showing images of young people drinking will confuse your audience if your website has a very formal look and feel.

How do I track effectiveness?

There are several ways to monitor the effectiveness of your print. Whether you’re placing a classified ad in a paper, or printing posters and leaflets, it’s worth creating a dedicated landing page and URL on your website or perhaps use a tracked 0844 phone number to track response. If you can, use a promotional code to incentivise and record conversions.

Consider these key areas and you’ll give your print communications a very good chance of standing out and bringing you the results your business needs.

Find out more about Simple Ways to Grow partners click Here

 

Thanks to our publishing partners Enterprise Nation for this article.

Follow printed.com @printed_com

Follow Enterprise Nation @e_nation

Follow Simple Ways To grow @simpleways2grow

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Published on 20/11/2012 14:43 by The Team @Simple Ways To Grow

Its Mo-Vember

movember.jpg

It’s Mo-vember at you may well be growing something on your top lip in aid of charity. But what about growing your business? We look at some simple ways to grow your customer base and sales from your existing customers. Some useful tips to help grow your business

Social Media

If you are not using social media then you are missing a trick. It’s cheap, quick and fun way to get you and your company noticed. Set up a Twitter account. Follow others and they will likely follow you. Look to see who your followers are following and follow them too. Especially look to see who is following your competitors and who they are following. You can follow us @simplewasy2grow.

Direct Marketing

It works. And it’s not just us saying that. About 11% of all advertising is spent on direct marketing.

First you need data. Gather names and addresses at every opportunity and ensure that you make it clear you are going to use the names for marketing.

Then just write to them introducing yourself and your company. Do a few at a time – you want to be able to cope with the responses. But also don’t expect a flood right away. Test different messages. Ask for feedback and amend to improve as you go. Use both mail and email. Email works well on its own with existing customers. With new customers it’s always best to mail first and then follow up with an email.

An example is finding new customers for a vet practice and shop. Get a list of people who like pets and live in your area. Write them an offer on a postcard, say money off with this flyer, or just reminding then about the necessary jabs in the run up to the holidays. Follow up with an email with the same offer and linking to your website. If they make an appointment for the jabs then send a reminder by email a few days before.

Ask everyone who comes into your shop to write down their name and address (email and post) so that they can receive your newsletter. Ensure that you check the addresses you gather so that you don’t mail someone twice. It’s that easy.

They’ll be more tips in the coming weeks.

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More about: more customers
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