Converting ‘busy-ness’ into businesses – Tips to manage your workload efficiently

 

It’s not astonishing to see that salespeople need more time than ever to keep their schedules in line. Sometimes it is overwhelming by the amount of workload you need to manage daily, some of which doesn’t involve selling: finding resources, managing client relationships, attending business meetings etc.

This could lead to salespeople working overtime trying to do multiple tasks at one go. So, we came up with a few tips to manage your workload efficiently to get you to focus on what matters.

 

Getting your priorities right

It is important to set goals that don’t just put a brass ring in front of you, but a what, why and how. If your goal is to generate 100 new leads, jot down why this matters, what steps you must take to make this happen and how you will go about it.

That way you can be productive and manage your workload effectively since you have gotten your priorities right on which tasks matters more. To put it in simple terms, doing “the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way”

 

Identify your next steps

Knowing your next steps help keep you organizing and it prevents you from side tracking. Make a list and figuring out which steps to prioritise first. Then you just work you way down the list, doing the high important things before the lesser important things.

By doing this, you will not be overwhelmed with the amount of workload that has to be done and you can focus on completing the workload that is most urgent.

 

Using the right tools for efficiency

Salespeople can get geeked out over technology and tools that can help them perform more efficiently. or may be get intimidated by the number of options available and technical complexity to set up. Fret no more, we will introduce you some tools that will help you get your efficiency level up and going without needing to read a manual!

 

TQ Prospector – An extension that helps to source for contacts on any website and add each contact to a list and export it to an Excel file.

Dropbox for Business – A secure file sharing and storage tool that provides a central storage location and collaboration platform for your business files.

Prezi – Cloud-based presentation software that creates interactive presentations that include an engaging “zooming” feature and collaboration functionality that allows multiple users to work on presentations together.

Trello – A productivity tool that uses boards, lists, and cards for organizing and prioritizing.

Insightly – Cloud-based customer relationship management and project management tools for small businesses.

Manage your workload now!

 

Utilizing your ‘one-on-one’ time with your manager

Utilizing your managers to get the key resources you need to excel to manage your workload efficiently doesn’t mean you are outsmarting your boss. In fact, sales managers should spend recurring one-on-one time with their sales representatives. This allows the sales representatives to clear off any questions and any help or guidance needed.

 

Looking for the sweet spot

Once you have identified your clients, pursuit only those prospects that fit into your sweet spot. With that, this allows you to stick within the ‘business parameters’ and focus on invest your time and effort on these prospects, making your workload much more efficient and productive.

Eliminate The Biggest Headache In Email Marketing

Email marketing is no longer what it used to be. It has a low conversion rate, which means that we need to have a huge email list to make up for the small percentage and drive sales.

Finding prospects is also incredibly tedious. Before I created my tool, there were generally 3 ways to find prospects:

  1. Networking events
  2. Email lists
  3. Manual search on Google

 

Networking Events

To build our network, we go to conferences, trade shows, networking lunches, business networking events and seminars. There, we hope to find people who are interested in our product. And usually we do. These events tend to give us a higher chance to close a deal, but they are very expensive and time-consuming.

 

Email Lists

The alternative to networking events is to buy email lists. However, email lists also come with their own problems.

  • They are ridiculously overpriced
  • They are obsolete or completely incorrect (Out of 10,000 emails, at least 6,000 bounce because they are no longer in use.)
  • These emails are so flooded with emails from hundreds if not thousands of people that the receivers are either stop bothering with unknown emails or have implemented strong filters that auto-junk emails

 

THE BIGGEST HEADACHE

The biggest headache in email marketing is COST. For anyone who has tried to find email leads without burning cash, you probably tried to manually search for emails on Google. You search for your industry and click on every single search result and scroll through the chunk of text to find an email address. But that is not effective.

I used to source for emails manually from Google, which took me 4 hours to get 50 emails. But now, I take 4 minutes to get 50 emails.

Now that I have eliminated the entire process, I save over 100 hours to focus on important tasks like meeting prospects and clients.

To explain without the technical details, I built a tool that extracts every single email within a single Google Search.

 

So here is how it works. For example, if I search “Property Agency Singapore”, I will do this:

If I want to manually select results to add, I click:

This tool is completely FREE for you to use.

 

We originally built this tool to recruit >40,000 vendors for our e-procurement marketplace. But now we are making it available for everyone. If you do sales or merchant acquisition, this tool is for you. Seeing is believing. Experience the difference HERE.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

How To Reduce Unsubscribers For Your Email Marketing

When people unsubscribe from our email marketing, it can be extremely painful and demotivating. It feels like a form of rejection, especially when you truly believe in the value you provide to people and they just don’t see it.

But that is the reality of sales and marketing. You and I do not meet EVERYONE’s needs. We have a target group of prospects and we want to capture as much market share as possible. Sometimes it takes a longer process of persuading, but getting a “no” does not really mean “no”. It just means “not now, maybe later.”

Understanding why your prospects unsubscribe is important to learning how to keep them on your mailing list. I have compiled some ideas for you to refine your email marketing strategy and keep your subscribers engaged.

 

State Your Objectives Clearly

It is not enough to simply say “sign up for our newsletter.” What are your subscribers going to get out of it? You need to be very clear about what you are offering, otherwise you will have mismatched expectations or worse people feel like you are just spamming them.

 

Segment Your Subscribers

Do your subscribers only want to learn about a particular topic or product out of an entire range you cover? Do varying demographics and geographies affect your readers’ expectations? How committed are your customers? Are they loyal, sceptical, deal finders or just window shoppers? Segment your email list by meaningful categories.

 

Test Email Frequency

Do your subscribers appreciate daily, weekly or monthly updates? It depends on the industry and value you are offering. Which day of the week do you receive a higher open-rate and conversion rate? Test that too.

 

Test Subject Lines

Do clickbait subject lines work well? Or do they frustrate your readers? I wrote a full-length article about the new expectations of email marketing that your readers never told you. Hope it is useful.

 

Be Personal

Rather than going “Hey friend” or worse still “Dear valued subscriber”, use your subscriber’s name! Collect names along with emails. A simple guideline is to mention your subscriber’s name once in every paragraph or so.

 

Offer Real Value

Give useful and relevant information that value-adds to your readers. Give offers, discounts and promotions exclusively to subscribers to make them feel appreciated.

 

Use Creative Formatting

Get un-boring. Refresh your style continually for visual appeal.

 

Optimise For Mobile

Why are we still saying this? Most of us read emails on mobile, so if you haven’t already considered this step, please do it. It will really help you to engage >70% of your audience reading on mobile.

 

OH NOOO! THEY STILL UNSUBSCRIBE!

This is inevitable. Rejections are a harsh reality. BUT we can do our best to minimise unsubscribes. The following techniques can help you save some prospects from flying out of your nest.

 

Allow More Options

You need to get out of the mindset that subscription is binary, either “Subscribe” or “Unsubscribe”. Think of it as a full spectrum. Your subscribers have different levels of relationships with you, and it is important to treat them differently to minimise total “unsubscribes”.

The following Email Subscriber Relationship Spectrum was developed by ThunderQuote inhouse to help us with relationship management.

 

Recognise Unsubscribe Trends

You need to be sensitive to patterns especially when they cause people to unsubscribe from your newsletter. Often it is clickbait subject lines, routine and ugly formats and poor value offered. Pay special attention to the feedback you get.

 

Building relationships with your subscribers is not easy, but we can definitely use some of these ideas to improve and give subscribers what they really need.

BONUS: We built a FREE tool that helps you find 200 email leads in 10 minutes. If you want to supercharge your email marketing campaign, click on this link.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

21 Ways To Get Your First 100 Customers

Starting out is always the hardest. When you are new in the market, you need to build your startup brand awareness and know how to get customers to trust you before they are willing to buy your product. If you are struggling with how to get your first 100 customers, you are not alone. We entrepreneurs know the difficulty. Here are 21 proven strategies to build your brand and get your first 100 customers.

 

Start with Friends and Family

When you are a new entrepreneur with a startup, perhaps you are a bit embarrassed to let your loved ones know that you are entering a business venture. Look in the mirror. There’s an entrepreneur in you. Own it. Share with your family and friends. Hold a party to celebrate your new journey and pitch to them. You will be amazed how supportive your loved ones are and how much they adore your bravery. Your first customers may be people you know very well.

 

Get to Friends of Friends

Once you have let all your loved ones know the value of your business, ask for a favour.  Ask them to refer your business to their friends. That way, you will have already reached your 2nd degree contacts to know your startup. Ask them to share a social media post, a hashtag, a flyer or your website. Who knows, perhaps your friends’ friends would spread the word.

 

Start an Email Marketing Campaign

You need to quickly get publicity for your small business beyond your immediate circle. You need to know how to get customers online. To start an email marketing campaigns, I suggest that you first begin with 50,000 emails. I don’t suggest that you buy email lists. They are super overpriced and 50% or more of the emails are outdated.

At the same time, you don’t want to manually search websites for emails. If I did that, I would take 4 hours to find 50 emails. I recommend that you use TQ Prospector. It helped me find 50 emails in 4 minutes. It automates the entire lead generation process for you and it’s absolutely free for your first 200 emails! There’s nothing to lose except 200 potential customers if you don’t give it a shot!

 

Blog, Blog, Blog

At first you may be wondering how blogging can help you get customers in a short time. The truth is that blogging is useful to show to the world that you are an expert in your field. Your knowledge in your domain will help others understand what you do and respect you as a thought leader. This is especially important to build credibility as a startup founder. Learn Search Engine Optimisation to maximise your reach. Use keywords that people normally search on Google. That way, your blog post will appear on the front page of the Google search results and you get free traffic to your website.

 

Create a Newsletter

Do you remember moving your mouse out of the webpage and suddenly a pop-up on the screen appears? What does it offer? A free toolkit? An ebook? A newsletter? A free trial? Exactly. Do that. Copy best practices and this will supercharge your startup’s growth.This will generate leads for your email marketing campaign to reach your initial customers.

 

Answer Quora

A great way to directly meet your potential customers’ needs is to find relevant questions on Quora to answer. Often people ask questions that they need an expert to advice on. Treat Quora like a blog. Share your expertise and build connections with a global audience. This will bring great long-term awareness to your startup.

 

Maximise Facebook

Create a Facebook page and post your blog content. I also suggest that you create a “like-and-share” contest to incentivise your fans to share your content with the rest of the world. Building a following on Facebook is quite tricky nowadays. You may need paid adverts to give your startup brand the awareness it needs.

 

Tweet in Droves

Hashtag-ing is most popular on Twitter and it is an amazing technique to get your brand in front of a relevant audience. I recommend tweeting 10-17 times a day. Create your own hashtag and use other common hashtags also. How do you get your brand in front of potential customers? Ride on viral hashtags to drive traffic to your Twitter account. Direct your followers to your startup website through images and blog posts.

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual blog. Convert all your blog posts into infographics and post them onto Pinterest regularly. When people click on your image, link them to your website. Honestly I find myself more inclined to read an infographic than a blog post. So it is also prudent to post your infographics in your blog too.

 

Link Up on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your digital CV. Everything you share and do on LinkedIn will determine the success or failure of your business. Be professional. People go to LinkedIn like they go for a business networking event rather than a birthday party. Share valuable educational content and not cat pictures. Advertising on LinkedIn is definitely an effective way to generate solid leads and get your first 100 customers.

 

Write on Reddit

How do I describe Reddit? It is a discussion page for everything under the sun, and that includes discussing your startup business. Getting in relevant discussions and providing insights will definitely provide you with a good reputation as a passionate leader in your industry and bring you your first 100 customers. Reddit has a cult following that is smaller than other social media platforms, but if you stay committed to the platform, you will reap a handsome number of leads.

 

Contribute to Forums

There are online forums for everything. They are decentralised public discussion pages that passionate enthusiasts gather around. These forums tend to be less formal. So it is perfectly fine to offer the lighter side of your startup business. But people on these forums know their stuff. So they appreciate truly valuable insights that have educational value.

 

Connect with Your Subscribers

Your subscribers are fans, regardless of which social media platform they follow you from. They expect to be related to as friends. So it pays to interact with them over social media. Your aim shouldn’t be to figure out how to get them to become customers, but rather how to add value to them. It helps you build rapport, learn their needs, build trust and get referrals from them. Actually help them even if it is beyond your scope. Refer them to people who can help them.

 

Call to Action

You need to link every Social Media account, blog and print adverts to a single landing page. That landing page needs to be optimised to reduce barriers to purchasing your product. You should only have 1 button “Try for Free”, “Subscribe”, “Download Now” etc. Any other button on your landing page is a distraction. Remember that your landing page has 1 sole purpose, which is to convert your committed fans into your first 100 customers. Don’t ever forget that.

 

Go to Networking Events

Conferences, book launches, breakfast clubs, round tables, and talks are great places to meet like-minded people. Always have an elevator pitch in mind to stimulate a conversation about what your startup has to offer. Prepare name cards, promo codes, discount vouchers and flyers to give away. See my article about 12 money saving tips for start-ups for ideas about how to go for these events for free.

 

Dish out Deals and Discounts

Who doesn’t love a $10 voucher? Personally, once I receive one, I want to make the most of the voucher. I will spend just to use it. It’s a psychological tactic. The loss aversion I feel from not using a voucher makes me buy. So use that to your advantage (just don’t do it to me). I still want a voucher though.

 

Try for Free

Often software has a free plan and a paid plan. You will use the free plan until you realise that you are addicted to the product and need to use the paid version. For your free plan to work, you need to make sure that you offer enough free stuff for it to be sticky and people actually stay on the free product instead of deleting it. That’s how getting them to become paid customers becomes easier.

 

Get Free Publicity

Start connecting with influential people in your field who can share your startup story on their blogs or magazines. You can cold email them or message them on social media. But the best way to make the emotional connection is through meeting them in person. That means actually going to networking events to meet people. I didn’t say this yet but I’ll say it now. Networking is nerve-wreaking for an introvert like me. I love people, but meeting new people is exhausting. But it is worth it. You will meet new friends, help others and receive help. Being in community is good.

 

Paid Adverts

I generally avoid paying for adverts, unless it is for retargeting. Retargeting is how you get undecided visitors to become customers. Retargeting basically goes like this: a visitor enters your website but decides that he needs time to think about it. The adverts he sees subsequently will be about your website to persuade him that your product is really what he needs. There is a higher chance of getting a sale from him than from randomly placed adverts.

 

Affiliate Marketing

2 is better than 1, and 3 is better than 2. So why not get someone to be your brand ambassador for your startup! Offer your salesperson a commission for each sale to incentivise him to work hard for sales. You could approach bloggers to be affiliate marketers for you too. Then you don’t have to figure our how to get customers on your own. You have a team to synergise and figure out the best strategies together.

 

Fusion Marketing

Find a complementary product to partner and exchange advertisements. Why? That’s because you will benefit from targeting your partner’s network while your partner will benefit from targeting yours. That’s why I say find a “complementary” product, not a “competing” product. Get creative about bartering for publicity.

 

BONUS: Tell your Story

Once you have made it past your first 100 customers, it is time to share your story to inspire other entrepreneurs who want to be like you. How did you end up doing what you are doing? What was the journey like? What were your ups and downs? Frame the story into the Hero’s Journey. Every story has the following elements:

  1. Living ordinarily
  2. The Call to Adventure
  3. Taking the First Step
  4. Trials, Tribulations and Troubles
  5. Meeting the Mentor (or guru)
  6. Confronting Your Biggest Fears
  7. Crippling Despair
  8. Slaying the Dragon
  9. Journey Home
  10. The Heroic Return

 

I hope this article helps you with many ideas find your first 100 customers. It is honestly not easy at the beginning, but that is the life of a startup founder. Entrepreneurs all go through these same problems as you. Keep pressing on and let us know any ideas you have too or surprising methods which worked!

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

10 Ways to Increase Email Marketing Sales

You need a killer strategy for your email marketing campaign. Many mediocre marketing emails do not even get opened because your readers’ expectations have changed. To make full use of this platform, you also need to ensure that you do not fall into the trap of getting into the Promotions Tab.

If you struggle to make sales through your email marketing campaign, you are not alone. Here are email marketing best practices that will maximise your click-through and conversion rate. So let’s dive in.

 

Send a Welcome Email

Sending a welcome email is important. Often it determines if your subscriber decides to immediately unsubscribe. Here is what you need to have in your welcome email:

  1. Explain clearly what your business is about
  2. Build instant rapport with a personal touch
  3. It is good practice to impress your new subscriber with a good deal or gift

Make the welcome email so valuable that your reader feels like he struck the lottery with your business.

 

Understand Your Subscribers’ Needs

Meeting your subscribers’ expectations are crucial to keep them on your mailing list. Meeting their emotional needs lets them know that you empathise and care for them.

Emotional Need How to Meet Them
Self-Expression Make each email a good talking point and conversation starter. Give them something to share with their peers.

E.g. Give them a promo code that only they have and only they can share.

E.g. Give them the most current news and bite-sized insights that they can talk about.

Help your subscribers be helpful, and help them be smart.

Belonging Create a sense of community by using your face and your name in your emails.

If possible, feature the names and faces of satisfied subscribers who are willing to contribute testimonials and helpful articles.

Control Give your subscribers the option to decide the frequency of your email newsletter. You can learn more about this in How To Reduce Unsubscribers.
Growth Upgrade your subscribers by giving them insights into your products.

Be the expert and give bite-sized commentary about your industry trends that they can chew on.

Recognition Personalise your email. Greet your subscribers by name and mention their names once in the first sentence of each paragraph.

Quote their names when answering questions or featuring testimonials. They will feel appreciated.

Care Remember your subscribers’ special days just like how you remember your anniversary. (Did you?) Send birthday deals, Christmas gift cards and suggestions for New Year Resolutions.

Send emails just to ask for feedback and answer previous questions.

Take the effort to give a timely and empathetic response.

 

Test Your Emails

Which subject line works? What content sticks? How frequent should you email your subscribers? There is no fixed answer. It varies from business to business. Do A/B testing to find out what works for you. And PLEASE… ensure that your emails work well on mobile.

 

Write Focused Emails

Keep your emails short. Use minimal pictures, 1 or 2 at max. Plain text emails with a lot of white space reduces distractions. Your subscribers will also appreciate that you do not overwhelm them with so many “BUY” buttons. Just 1 Call-To-Action button will do. Overdoing that will just create a lot of hate.

 

Blast Off With A Landing Page

Your Call-To-Action button should lead directly to a landing page that has nothing else but the product you are selling. You can learn more about the features of great landing pages in this article:______________.

 

Invent A Sale Day

There is nothing wrong with offering deals during the Super Bowl, Black Friday or China’s Singles’ Day. But these days are so crowded and small businesses just don’t stand a chance to gain publicity on such mega events. So create your own and let your subscribers anticipate it every year. Using a consistent date helps your subscribers spontaneously mark their calendar.

 

Push Abandoned Carts (For E-Commerce Businesses)

Often during online window shopping, your reader will add items to their carts only to consider them later. After that, they may hesitate and decide that they are unsure about committing to the purchase. Rather than just letting them walk away, push the cart into their inbox so that they can reconsider your products.

 

Make Purchasing A Habit

If your subscriber purchased a perishable product like dog food or scented candles, send a follow up email to re-purchase the product. To make the deal more juicy, offer a bulk discount that drives volume sales.

If your product is non-perishable like clothes and bikes, promote accessories like matching necklaces and tactical tail lights. This helps you to upsell and anticipate your subscriber’s needs. In the case of bikes, promote tyre replacements to anticipate wear-and-tear.

 

Scarcity Sells

Offer limited time deals and one-off promotions that are available only through email subscription. Having a subscribers’ promo code adds to the exclusivity of the sale and shows appreciation to your readers.

 

Repeat Successful Emails

After sending emails consistently, you need to check on the success rate of each email and decide which format and content works. If you find a particular email drives insane sales volume, do not hesitate to repeat the email.

 

BONUS: We built a FREE tool that helps you find 200 email leads in 10 minutes. If you want to supercharge your email marketing campaign, click on this link.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

12 Money Saving Tips for Start-ups

From our experience, running a business need not cost an arm or a leg. However, we realize that entrepreneurs tend to compartmentalize their personal budgeting away from business budgeting. While it is true that you need to invest a sunk cost to get your business going, you should watch your business spending as much as (or even more closely than) your personal finances.

Here are some proven innovative cost saving ideas to cut costs and stretch your dollar.

 

Follow Procurement Best Practices

It is not enough to simply record your expenses and explain their practical use in the business. You need cost saving ideas to maximize cash flow. Often there are more cost-effective solutions to save money and you need to compare prices before making a purchase. Make it a habit among your team members to source for the most cost-effective solution and presenting their researched options to you before committing to a purchase. But who has time to do all that right, so save yourself the time and hassle and get quotations from ThunderQuote for free.

Just another tip: Assign your most trustworthy and meticulous team member to be in charge of all fund outflows. All proposed expenditure need to be justified to him and there should be no commitment to purchase before his approval, else it’ll be easy to overrun your budget without realising it till the end of the month or worse!

 

Use Free Advertising

There are many free alternatives to paid advertising. Getting paid clicks on social media platforms and Google are targeted and cheaper than the regular billboards, but they may still be expensive for a start-up who needs to cut costs for other business opportunities.

Blogging with good SEO keywording is one way to save money and get free traffic to your website and build your company’s reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Building your repertoire of articles will take a long process, but this is a long-term marketing strategy to build brand awareness.

You can accelerate your web traffic through email marketing and setting up a newsletter. However, buying email lists can be extremely expensive and easily 50% of the emails in the list are outdated. You can create your own email lists, but that will take a very long process. Manually finding 50 emails can take up to 4 hours. You should automate this process for free with TQ Prospector, which extracts 50 emails in 8 minutes. That saves you time to attend to your more important business appointments.

 

Run Your Business from Home

In many countries, a home office is legal and may only require a licence. Take advantage of this flexibility to save your rental and transportation costs. By home office, I also mean working from Starbucks and other cafes at your convenience.

If your business is really successful and your home cannot accommodate your expansion, look for co-working spaces such as Workcentral with all the amenities provided at a cheap cost or incubators like NUS Enterprise which provide free hot-desking spaces are great too! Once again, do your shopping and find the cheapest option that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet.

 

Go to Conferences for Free

Oh I love this one! Usually conference organizers are understaffed because conferences occur very infrequently. And they tend to hire a lot of part-time working students to shoulder the heavy-lifting for them. Hiring part-time students cost money too! You can help them cut costs through some innovative negotiation.

Here’s what you can offer them: Tell the conference organizer that you have a team of friends who are willing to volunteer their help for free in exchange for participation in the conference. I did this for 6 conferences already, and every one of them were glad to take me in!

And here is the good part: Invite your team and friends for a free learning and networking opportunity in an otherwise expensive conference, at the cost of ushering or doing registration for a short time. You will gain a good standing as being resourceful and generous. So why not?

 

Get Sponsors for Your Own Events

While networking at the events you attend for free, you may meet people who find your services extremely valuable and they may want to sponsor you. I recently attended my friend’s book launch at a Harley Davidson showroom, complete with a sponsored test drive, sponsored catering and sponsored wines. How did he do that? He conveyed the vision for his book in a way that resonated with the vision of his sponsors’ values. His sponsors saw the alignment of vision and decided that sponsoring his book launch is the perfect way to convey their vision to the public. So it is possible! Be creative about getting sponsorship.

 

Buy Refurbished Equipment

You do not always have to buy new equipment if you are not operating your office as a showroom. A refurbished photocopier, cupboard and mini fridge may not look fancy, but they certainly do their job and saves you money. If you work in a co-working space, these may already be provided to you. Otherwise just find a thrift shop, buy in bulk and get a discount.

 

Don’t Hire Full-Time Employees

On the surface, this sounds harsh. But the truth is that you do your entire team a favor in the long-run. Hiring full-time employees can be expensive, and you don’t want a case where you put them out of job if the worst happens. Begin with interns and contract staff to help you with various projects within the business. Your interns will greatly value the experience you offer along with the allowance to pay off their student loans. That helps both you and your interns save money!

If you need a longer-term solution, look for part-time hires. These may be new mothers who need time to look after their kids or university students and other people in a season of transition. Hire a full-time employee only once your start-up has grown enough to need and afford one.

 

Be Lazy. Do It Once, Automate.

What business processes can you completely leave to a machine to handle? I wrote a full article about how you can automate your sales and marketing at zero cost. There are automation tools for almost everything. Write down all your business processes and Google search for tools that can do that 10 times faster than you. Typically, the cost is small relative to the time you save for the things you cannot automate, like meeting prospects and clients. Saving time means money making opportunities for you and your business.

 

Keep It Lean: Outsource

Anything apart from your core business? Outsource. Warehousing? Outsource. Delivery and fulfilment? Outsource. Graphic design? Outsource. Keep your business focused on your core product and lighten the load of your team with what truly matters. Hire consultants as needed on a project basis. This will ensure that you have more time devoted to your team and cut overhead costs and put your money to other uses.

 

Watch Your Cash Cycle

Take note of your accounts collectibles and payables, ensuring that you get money in faster than you pay out is incredibly important especially as a cash strapped start-up.

Even if your income and expenses look healthy, you don’t want to get catch in a situation where your cash on hand falls beneath what you require for daily operations! Read more about cash flow mistakes and tips on how to better manage your cash flow here.

 

Value Your Employee Time

Your employees typically spend 8 hours in office, with a lot of time wasted in meetings. Keep your meetings short! For an introvert like me, meetings drain my mental energy and that means less productivity for the rest of the day. Please spare a thought for the awkward geeky nervous nerds like me.

Rather than having everyone travel to a centralized venue for a meeting, just do teleconferencing, or videoconferencing. In my company we find Skype the most convenient solution to get our meetings done quick. An introvert like me prefers that actually.

 

Negotiate

Negotiate with your landlord. Negotiate with your suppliers. Negotiate for a barter trade. Negotiate for a longer payment period, cheaper rates and yes, an exchange of services.

Negotiate is not about getting all of the pie. Negotiating is about making the pie bigger. Often we don’t know what our counterpart really wants. We just assume that they want the cash. Take time to develop the relationship and know what they need. Perhaps you have something to offer to them that is of value. My marketing consultant wanted to revamp her website and I wanted an email campaign. Guess what? We bartered. And the cost savings we got could be put to other business opportunities.

Find a win-win situation for everyone to come away happy at the outcome and build the relationship.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

The Next Big Thing In Digital Marketing And How It could Cost You Your Job

Technological disruption is upon us. The world is changing too fast for us to be comfortable with our jobs. Every industry is being disrupted. Transport, finance, law, medicine, manufacturing, you name it. Everything is changing.

We are long past the dawn of Industry 4.0. Early adopters of these technologies are already reaping the benefits even at the cost of jobs. Just a few years ago, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, blockchain, 5G and cloud computing were cliché buzzwords.

But now they are here to stay. And they are disrupting every industry, including yours.

 

Disruptive Marketing Technologies

In the field of marketing, processes have undergone a radical transformation at breakneck speeds. Marketing Technology or Martech is transforming the industry in multiple ways.

  • Reach Maximisation. Companies are looking for exponential virality to reach global fame in a shorter amount of time.
  • Cross-Channel Campaign Marketing. The trend towards integrating multiple platforms helps to create greater impact with their campaigns.
  • Work Flow Automation. Many platforms now offer the option to put marketing campaigns on autopilot.
  • Personalised Advertising. Sales are shown to increase when tailored to individuals’ preferences and past purchasing habits.
  • Conversion Optimisation. Data analytics offers a comprehensive look into the levels of effectiveness of various marketing messages and tools.

 

These marketing technology trends are shaping every corner of the industry

Technology Trend Industrial Application
Reach Maximisation Search Engine Optimisation – Using relevant keywords in web content to increase search engine traffic

Content Management System – Monitoring websites and blogs to track engagement levels

Cross-Channel Marketing Cross-Channel Campaign Marketing Software – Centralised management software that syncs multiple marketing platforms

Social Media Calendar – Centralised management of social media marketing platforms

Work Flow Automation Email Marketing Automation – Technology that automates email marketing campaigns with scheduling, tracking and follow-up tools
Personalised Marketing Retargeting – Online advertising based on web history (often managed by online advertising agencies)

Cookies-Based Advertising – Similar to Retargeting, except that it is often employed by individual websites and its applications can be extended to email marketing

Conversion Optimisation Web Analytics – Analysis of web traffic, including sources of traffic, length of time spent on website, bounce rates and conversion rates

A/B Testing – Experimentation of the effectiveness of marketing messages (often used in email marketing)

 

 

The Next Email Marketing Disruption

The next big step for email marketing involves a thorough automation of customer relationship management with artificial intelligence. We already see artificial intelligence being used in self-driving cars, Alexa and China’s robot news anchor.

The area of artificial intelligence that is most relevant to email marketing is Natural Language Processing. Natural Language Processing or NLP for short is already capable of creating email marketing content without the need of a content writer.

To illustrate this reality, look at a recent example from China. In the technological hub of Guangzhou, the newspaper company Southern Metropolis Daily launched its robot journalist that is capable of writing a coherent 300-word story in just 1 second. This threatens to uproot professional journalism as a profession, and can be directly applied to content writing for email marketing.

Artificial intelligence experts working on natural language processing are still trying to find the right mix of rules-based and statistical-based modelling. Currently, the technology is capable of categorising customer requests and providing accurate answers to frequently asked questions.

Right now, we see this in chatbots all over the internet. These chatbots are limited in their functions as they try to match customer requests to standardised answers. However, chatbots are just the beginning of artificial intelligence, and we will see its application in all areas of email marketing in the near future.

We will expect content writing to become automated. Robots will extract information directly from the internet and put them together into blog posts and email newsletters.

We will also expect to see robots capable of answering email subscribers beyond a standardised answer. They will be able to generate their own answers by sourcing information on the internet independently.

 

What We Should Do

Artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, but we should stay updated about the development trends around this technology.

There is a way to stay ahead in the marketing industry. To stay relevant with the technological disruption we are facing, we need to start learning how to adopt technologies into our work.

There are email marketing technologies that are already transforming the way we generate leads. Take the TQ Prospector Tool for example, which extracts every single email and phone number from your Google search results with just one click.

If we fall behind the industry, we will quickly be replaced by tech-savvy competitors. That is why we need to continually upgrade our skills and the tools we work with to ensure we stay ahead of the competition. You can read more about other marketing automation tools I recommend in this article here.

But my top recommendation to work smarter is TQ Prospector! It’s free and it helps you extract as many as 200 emails in 10 minutes or so. So get this tool now to help you stay ahead of the competition!

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

5 Free Tools To Make Email Marketing Work Harder For You

Email marketing can become a laborious process that can seriously suck the joy out of your passion. Let’s keep things simple here. I have a few email marketing software tools that I highly recommend for any marketer to use. Coming from a start-up background, a lean team really needs some serious automation firepower. Let’s fire away.

 

TQ Prospector

If you are doing email marketing, you will either buy email lists that are ridiculously overpriced and 50% outdated or you will manually extract emails one at a time from Google. Both aren’t the best options on the market.

If you are someone like me who takes 4 hours to source 50 emails, TQ Prospector cuts that down to 8 minutes. Yup you read that right. This Chrome extension can source every single email from your Google search results without you even having to click on the websites. Add this to your arsenal. It’s free by the way.

 

Hello Bar

Apart from sourcing emails automatically, you will definitely want to convert your web traffic into email leads before they leave the site. Too often, your visitors scroll through your website and go “I guess I’ll think about it, but not now.” Then you lose your chance funnel them into your email marketing campaign.

What Hello Bar does for you is to add sticky bars to catch your visitors’ attention before they leave. You can offer a free newsletter or a free ebook through subscribing to the free mailing list. This helps you follow up with your prospects and funnel them into your email campaign. Grab this low-hanging fruit.

 

POWr

Sticky bars may not always do the trick for your website visitors. Sometimes you need a pop-up that communicates the value of your freebie in a bolder and louder voice. By just offering their email, your visitors can get your free gift plus plenty of other offers? Why not?

POWr really powers your lead generation and drives more traffic to your webpage. The full suite includes plugins like social media icons, form builders, chat functions, maps and much more. Take a look and shop for what you need. I mean free shopping.

 

Campaign Monitor

Now that you got your email list generated, it’s time to put it to work. Once again, you could manually email your leads and read each reply and follow up with another email. Or you can simply automate it.

Campaign monitor is a killer at email automation. This email marketing platform helps you schedule emails, email blast, autoreply and track your progress on your email marketing campaign. It is more than an email blast software. It is seamless, intuitive and reliable. It is a free subscription with upgradable features. It is very affordable relative to its competitors so far, and considering the time you save to focus on other things that matter, I think this tool is a must-have. Lock and load.

 

Agile CRM

There comes a point in your email marketing campaign that you need to build relationships with prospects more personally and automation just won’t cut it. There are a lot of CRM software available in the market, but Agile is free (yep I love free stuff) and it syncs well with Campaign monitor. It is probably the best customer relationship management software available in the market.

You will definitely appreciate the wealth of resources they uploaded to supercharge your email marketing. And not surprisingly for a customer relationship management system, their customer service is pretty good!

 

These free email marketing software tools are among many that are available in the market. I highly recommend that you take time to research your company needs and continue to source for other alternative tools or look into the paid tiers of these tools as your needs grow.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.