BUSINESS happiness can come in all shapes and sizes and the key to achieving happiness within your SME is having a BHAG; a big hairy audacious goal.
Thinking and forward planning will help create a logical and direct route to business happiness, which will in turn make your SME a sustainable and happy one.
The experts at Haines Watts have shared six steps to reach business happiness:
1. ENSURE YOU’RE SERVING THE RIGHT CUSTOMERS TO DRIVE PROFITABLE GROWTH
Did you know that it’s the top 20 percent of customers that will drive 80 percent of the business forward? Customers outside of the 20 percent ‘sweet spot’ shouldn’t absorb too much effort or time. Think about who your key customers are: what are their needs? Where do they come from? Why are they your key customers? Tailor your marketing towards the ‘sweet spot’ and don’t be tempted by the other 80 percent.
Retaining your most valuable customers is crucial to driving profitable growth. The cost of attracting new customers is five times more expensive than retaining an existing customer – this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attract new customers; it just means you should attract the right new customers that will become part of the top 20 percent.
Nine out of ten small businesses grow by upselling or selling to similar customers and long-term customers are more likely to recommend your business; relationship building and customer loyalty plays a huge role when retaining and attracting top customers.
2. SENSE CHECK THE RELEVANCE OF YOUR PRODUCT AND SERVICES TO YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS
Are you clearly creating a point of difference versus your competitor? Are you continuously improving and innovating your products and services? Are you giving your customers the best service possible? These are all questions which should be addressed and in order to be business-happy the answers should be YES.
Differentiating your product from a competitor’s and understanding the value will help keep your product or service relevant to your customer; speak to your consumers and understand what it is that they want and what the added value means to them. Keeping the product or service live and up to date constantly is crucial to keeping your customers happy – they won’t care how it’s done; they will just value the results. Keeping the updates smooth and being timely will make the customer feel like you really care about them which will keep them coming back. Remember, staying relevant to your target customers is essential.
3. HAVING THE RIGHT SET OF PLANS WILL MAKE YOUR BUSINESS MORE RESILIENT
Resilience can be a huge factor in business happiness and by having an active set of plans in place you’re already well on your way. Financial planning and having financial targets in place help to unify the team to drive towards the same goal. Consider setting out three targets for the team to achieve and make sure milestones are factored in. Consistency, too, is key.
Having a plan in place can help with many scenarios, for example if disaster struck would you know what to do? Do you have a contingency plan in place? Here are a few circumstances to think about:
• Losing a big client – will there be a potential financial risk?
• Working from home arrangements – are practical factors and facilities in place?
• Office flood – is there an option to move to an alternative site?
• Data / IT hack – do you have data and contacts backed up?
• Corporate responsibility obligations – e.g. GDPR, is your business compliant?
Not having plans in place if something goes wrong can cause business paralysis so ensure you plan for external and internal risks. Plan for worst-case-scenarios in order to future proof and make your business resilient to potential problems that lie ahead.
4. GET IT RIGHT FOR THE PEOPLE THAT WORK FOR YOU AND WITH YOU
It’s important to make employees feel as though they are part of the business and the culture is reflected by this. Ask yourself, is this the culture you want in your business? Is the leadership style, internal comms and structure aligned with the desired culture?
It’s important to employ individuals who want to buy into and support these values; it may be a case of unravelling what really makes the business tick! In order to get it right for employees and for the business, you need to:
• Ensure everyone supports the company’s values and is working towards the same goals
• Invest in training and development tailored for each member of your team so each individual is able to progress within the company and understands their career map
• Ensure you have the right qualities and support to help grow the business towards your vision
• Have a clear feedback system in place for your team to suggest ideas for continuous improvement and review the comments regularly to make the team feel valued and heard. After all, they are the company’s best assets
SMEs often grow by buying out similar businesses, and in this scenario, it is so important to ensure that each of the business’ cultures reflect your vision and values, and your team’s. Without your team on board with these values, the business is likely to suffer, so make sure this is a priority for the business at the beginning of its journey and review the culture often, especially when new team members are brought onboard.
5. REVIEW WHETHER YOUR FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE IS ROBUST ENOUGH TO BE SUSTAINABLE
When you run a business, it’s important to ask yourself what its purpose is – does it exist to provide you with a specific lifestyle, is the plan to hand it down to future generations, or perhaps you’re looking to sell it eventually? Establishing your financial strategy and how it underpins the future is key here.
Think about your business’ growth plan – what shape do you want it to be? Think about how much turnover and profit you’d like to generate and how much you will invest into developing the business.
By taking a proactive approach to your business’s financials, you’re not only ensuring that everyone in the business gets paid, you can focus on prioritising future investments for the company such as new employees or premises, and actively look for any warning signs in the future.
Remember to ask yourself the right questions – is the business performing well and why? What measurements are in place and what’s next?
Successful businesses are aware of the current state of the business – knowing facts, not assumptions. As the saying goes, ‘what gets measured gets managed’, so set some KPIs and keep an up to date dashboard so you can look for trends – this will help in accommodating what the future holds.
With data at your fingertips you can identify the right customers, products and services for your business and filter out customers paying £300 vs £3,000 for your product. If you are in a position to analyse data early on, you’ll be able to find solutions, helping to future proof your business.
6. CONSIDER HOW TO GET THE DIRECTION OF THE BUSINESS RIGHT FOR THE FUTURE
Take a step back from the business to really think about your vision, where the business is going and where you want it to be. What are you passionate about? Do you want to be the go-to business in your industry? If so, how are you going to get there and how does this fit in with who your customer is? Consider the following:
• How does your business vision help you plan for the future?
• What does the future hold for your business?
• Do you have the right skills and the right people to meet the challenge?
Establish your vision and think carefully about the ‘sweet spot’, working out what is driving the most profit. This will feed into shaping your big goals for the future and help you to identify the steps you need to take to get there.
You might want to rank at the top of Google, or create a recognisable brand – bring your vision to life by doing your research and planning ahead in your financial strategy.
Keep your big hairy audacious goal in your back pocket, and strive to continuously improve the business by forward planning, visualising where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Only by setting goals and achieving them can you truly feel business happiness.
5 TIPS TO HELP FINANCE BUSINESSES SMASH THEIR COMPETITION WITH DIGITAL PR
Gemma Flinders, Senior PR Account Manager at Receptional
Nailing digital PR isn’t easy. But when you’re in a “red tape” sector like finance, overcoming the hurdles towards a top-notch strategy can seem impossible. On one hand, your online competition is fierce – from high street banks and price comparison sites to asset management services. On the other, any campaign ideas you have can be shut down by compliance and regulations.
In spite of these hurdles, more and more financial institutions are recognising PR’s importance in executing a top-notch digital marketing strategy. According to our research, 69% of Digital Marketing Managers in financial services are prioritising budgets for digital PR in 2020. And so they should – with careful planning and execution, digital PR can yield a fantastic return on investment (ROI).
However, 50% of those we interviewed admitted to lacking the internal skills and knowledge required.
At Receptional, it’s taken us years to build our digital PR offering from the ground up. Now, we feel confident enough to share our framework for success. Based on our experience executing award-winning campaigns in this difficult sector, here’s how finance businesses can effectively use digital PR to smash their competition.
1. Take Time to Understand Your Target Audience
A successful digital PR campaign needs a target audience. If nobody’s going to view it, what’s the point in creating it? To do this, you need to evaluate where your target audience are and what’s appealing to them.
Avenues for gauging you audience could be:
Job Titles – For example, if you’re running a PR campaign targeted at CEOs, ensure you’re actually relating to them in your content. This is especially useful for social media targeting on platforms like LinkedIn as you can filter your target audience by job title.
Content Types They Engage With – Which of your content formats generates the most engagement – a press release, video animation? Or, have any of your competitors used a content format that’s landed really well? Getting the content format right can make all the difference to a PR campaign.
Influential Advertising Channels – Analyse where exactly your audience spends most of their time. Is it reading your email newsletters, commenting on your social media posts or viewing video campaigns? This will help promote your campaign on the right channels.
There are also some handy tools to research your audience further. Two of our favorites are:
Answer The Public: features real questions that people ask search engines, e.g. “which banking investment solution is right for me”? This helps to find topics that address your audience’s key concerns.
You can also find related terms to search queries. For example, after a search for “asset management” on Answer the Public, one of the related terms “asset management market study” could be a great study for a PR campaign.
Buzzsumo: unlocks data on the actual content your audience is engaging with, what social channels it’s being shared across and how recently. If a particular piece of content is receiving a lot of interest, it’s a sign that your target audience wants to know more.
After a search for “business finance management” one article on integrated business and personal finance has received 3.8K total engagement. Possible PR campaigns could look into the future of business finance tech or what businesses value as the post important asset when looking into finance management.
2. Make Idea Generation Easier
Any successful digital PR campaign starts with a solid idea – one that’s really going to resonate with your target audience. However, generating these ideas doesn’t need to be a painstakingly difficult task, there are some easy ways to cut corners.
Following industry trends and updates is one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate PR campaign ideas. Developments in the financial space happen daily, so keeping on top of these will keep your campaign ideas flowing.
Image source – https://www.google.co.uk/alerts#
Set up Google Alerts for industry-related search terms, competitors and key thought leaders in the financial space. This way, you can quickly react to emerging trends, upcoming events or hot topics that could be leveraged, hijacked or piggybacked for your own PR. Knowing an industry update as soon as it hits the headlines will also allow you to respond quickly and produce content when it’s likelier to be picked up.
You can make things even easier by setting up information requests from journalists or publications. ResponseSource allows you to receive these requests in real-time from different sectors directly into your inbox. This’ll save you time in coming up with an idea – all you need to do is present your content in a creative, engaging way!
3. Will Your Idea Actually Work?
There is no point investing time and resources into PR campaigns that aren’t going to take off or yield any results. Our team must confidently answer these five questions to sense-check a campaign idea. If we can’t, the idea will be refined or scrapped if there’s no chance of it working:
- Why this campaign?
Justification is key to getting a PR campaign up and running. Consider what this campaign could achieve for your business and why it stands above any other ideas.
- Is this campaign practical?
Having a really extravagant PR idea is fantastic – IF you have the resources to make it happen. We already know that 50% of the digital marketing managers in the finance sector lack the in-house resources to pull off digital PR, so any ideas you have need to be achievable.
- Does it tie in with your brand?
The main goal of digital PR is to promote your brand and your offering. But to do this, it needs to be relevant your products or services. Use PR campaigns to establish your business as thought leaders in your industry and the best on the market. Don’t try to cross over into territory you have little experience in.
- Is it newsworthy?
For example, if headlines revealed there’s been a surge in consumers using independent businesses, you could do a research piece around asking consumers why they prefer shopping small. However, be sure your idea hasn’t already been covered already – publications will very rarely share the same campaign twice.
- Who will be interested?
If you’re dedicating lots of time, resources and budget into a PR campaign, you need to know if it’ll appeal to your target audience. Look over the research you gathered from your audience tools, e.g. does a question relevant to your idea keep popping up on Answer The Public? If you can’t find any interest, your idea needs reworking.
4. Structure Your Campaigns for Success – ‘The Three Pillars’
Even if you’ve justified why you’ve chosen a campaign idea, it could still fall flat if you haven’t actually considered its framework. Whether you’re trying to push your brand name, increase search rankings or enquires, how is the campaign actually going to achieve its main goal? Remember, good PR isn’t created just to be newsworthy, it’s there to fulfil a purpose within your marketing strategy.
According to Moz, the top-ranking factors for 2019 were landing page content, linking sites and internal links. Based on these findings, we split our digital PR campaigns into three pillars. This allows us to plan exactly how our campaigns will look from start to finish:
This is an asset that can generate links without being too promotional or salesy. It also adds credibility to your content campaign. For example, if you ran a survey evaluating how satisfied consumers are with their banks, a dedicated landing page sharing the data would put your brand as the face of the research.
Be sure to link this as your main resource in any content you produce off the back of your campaign, e.g. exclusive articles, infographics, video animations to push your landing page even further.
From our experience of working with journalists, they’re much likelier to credit your brand if you have an attainable, not overly promotional, resource for them to link to!
Internal links are the backbone to any website. They are featured within your content to push SEO value through to the most profitable website pages and increase their ranking. E.g. if you had a blog post on ‘5 Different Types of Business Loans’, any relevant, high converting webpages on your site should be linked to within the text.
Add internal links to your website pages throughout your content/landing page. Any online publications who then link to your landing page will push SEO authority through your entire site; helping to push your most profitable pages further up the SERPs into those prime positions.
Note – avoid “keyword stuffing” with your internal links. Not every webpage is equal value, so splitting any link equity throughout your entire website will only reduce the ranking benefits.
With effective campaign promotion, the target landing page will earn links within content placed on third party sites. These links establish landing page authority which sends SEO value through profitable pages and increase rankings.
Be refined over the publications you contact – your campaign isn’t going to be relevant to everyone. Limit your lists down to websites who’ll have interest in content around finance. E.g. business news, investments, insurance, etc.
Check to see if websites have a media pack too, as some have specific requirements for getting content featured on their site, e.g. the right tone of voice, an author and even wordcount. Some publications will also refuse to link back to your website, which isn’t ideal if your campaign’s purpose is to improve your rankings!
5. How to Avoid Missing the Mark…
A PR campaign that backfires can be detrimental to a brand’s identity and consumer’s views of them. All consumers want to trust the companies they do business with, but this is especially true in finance. According to research, 69% of people in the UK have expressed distrust in their finance and banking businesses in the past three years.
Mastercard know the effects of bad PR only too well. In 2018, the credit card brand ran their ‘Meals for Goals’ campaign, which promised that for every goal scored by Messi or Neymar Jr. 10,000 children would receive a mean donated by the World Food Programme charity.
Unsurprisingly, the campaign received worldwide backlash, with headlines describing it as “the worst marketing I’ve ever seen” and “don’t let the fate of starving children rest on multimillionaire footballers”. The fact is, although it had good intentions, Mastercard’s audience were disgusted by the notion of such a huge multi-national company allowing the fate of starving children to rest their two selected players scored goals during the tournament.
Financial businesses need to put trust at the centre of their digital PR campaigns. For instance, you could position your CMO a thought-leader in the industry through interviews with financial news websites and webinars.
Although digital PR isn’t straightforward in the finance, it shouldn’t be avoided. There are plenty of ways to make generating ad landing strong campaigns much easier.
SALARY PREDICTIONS FOR 2020-2021 IN BANKING AND PAYMENTS INDUSTRY
We used to go to the bank, withdraw some funds, and then buy groceries or pay for the household. Nowadays, all you need to do is grab the phone with NFC chip and pay for whatever you need in only one move.
Trends In The Banking And Payments Industry
Traditional banking and payment operations with cash have become obsolete. It’s evident due to the ever-increasing trend of online banking. Nowadays, payment systems like Google Pay, Apple Pay, WeChat Pay and online wallets like PayPal, Yandex.Money, Payza, WePay, and others substitute payment in cash. Bitcoins and other digital currencies are in as well.
The more we step into the future, the less common it becomes to pay with cash. These trends are not something frightening, they are the drivers that should be followed.
No doubt that traditional banks panicked when the world met emerging online payments and transactions. That is why many of them have already switched to digital banking agencies.
Amazon launched Amazon Pay in 2007, the British Lloyds Banking Group is planning to adopt digital banking systems, the leaders of the Deutsche Bank is opting for robotic advisors and other online banking tools powered by AI.
The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Banking and Payments Industry
Adopting business intelligence software is a must these days. Seasoned business intelligence software engineers help develop and maintain online payment systems of banks and other companies.
Mobile business intelligence software has the following benefits for the banking industry:
- Data visibility
This allows the clients to access their banking accounts anywhere and anytime. If a client buys a pair of socks online through the BI-driven banking app, they don’t have to wait for days to check the changes in the balance. The updates are quick and happen in real-time.
- Sales increase
The more convenient and fast a mobile payment tool is, the more likely people tend to use it. Knowing that you can pay for gas, electricity, or other utilities with no need to leave the house makes you reach out to your phone and do it immediately.
The same applies to online shopping. The more purchases a client makes online through the banking app, the more fee they have to pay. Although we all dream of free purchases, we still pay it to buy desired items.
- Boosted knowledge-sharing
This is the direct perk for your company and workers since Business Intelligence affects not only your very mobile payment app but also overall performance.
Your employees benefit from business intelligence because they can easily access all the important data to get updated and make some changes themselves from any place in the world. Machine-learning mechanisms make sure your system remembers all the enhancements and self-develops.
Salary Predictions for 2020-2021 In Banking And Payments Niche
A business intelligence software engineer salary varies according to the experience, country, and accessibility. By accessibility, we mean both remote outstaffed or outsourced teams and separate workers.
According to Upwork, the world’s biggest remote job-seeking website, there are around 5,000 software engineers with business intelligence skills that are open to hiring.
This is outsourcing that we’re talking about. Although you’re unlikely to see your developer in person, you can choose a perfect candidate from any country with different living standards. The lower the living standards are, the cheaper developers sell their services.
In 2020, BI developers from Upwork with 80%+ job success rate and fluent English charge from $12/hour to $100/hour and more. Of course, opting for the lowest price tags might have negative consequences as it often affects the quality. But you still have a wide range to select from. We recommend hiring a worker who charges at least $30/hour. This way you’re going to spend around $57,600 a year.
According to other sources, business intelligence engineers earn an average of $114,000 a year. We’re talking about on-premises workers. Outstaffing agencies are somewhere in the middle in terms of prices. However, they are ready to choose and manage the entire team for big projects. You’ll be minimum engaged yet get fruitful results.
Talking about the near future, 2021 is unlikely to skyrocket the prices on BI development services. On freelance platforms, you’ll still be welcome to choose workers in any price range.
2021 on-premises workers are likely to have their salary increased by 1.4% – 3% a year minimum. We got these numbers from the answer of Google developer on Quora. Others say that it’s possible to get a raise of 50% in 3-4 years if you perform well.
Skilled BI software engineers are in-demand. Head hunters are after them since the 2000s. How much you, as a CEO, should pay them a year, though, doesn’t depend on market statistics only but the performance and growing experience of every software developer.
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