Brand perception does matter. But what is more important is how you create and position that perception among your customers. Studies have shown that 75% of purchase decisions are based on emotion. The organizations that place value-over-price considerations to win hearts are usually armed with a well-defined, genuinely likeable brand. The benefits of defining your organization’s values, voice, and market placement can include increased profits, and better customer and employee retention. Here are some effective ways to begin defining your organization, or jumpstart your current branding efforts:
The key is to find what works for your business and brand. Just never skip the basics! Branding is a passion for me, and it’s what my clients come to me for repeatedly, so expect to see a ton of content on the subject! If you haven’t already, check out the below articles on branding: 7 Branding Terms To Know! Involve small businesses in the development of some proposed rules through Small Business Advocacy Review Panels. Commenting on Enforcement Actions Under a law passed by Congress in 1996, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has established an SBA Ombudsman and SBA Regional Fairness Boards to investigate small business complaints about. The Goal IS Recognition. The whole point of creating a logo is to build brand recognition. So, how do you go about doing this? Well, it varies from case to case, but the goal with the logo is for the average person to instantly call the brand to mind. A few examples of this are the logos for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Nike. Building a brand can feel daunting. In fact, many small businesses feel like it’s something that only the “big guys” can afford. But branding is something that every company can do if you follow a few basic rules. What is branding? A brand is a whole ecosystem of how you communicate with the outside world. In a nutshell, your brand is a. By following a few simple rules, you can successfully brand your small business. As you plan, launch, and manage your branding program, remember and train others to remember these three branding rules: Your brand is a promise that must be reinforced every time people come in contact with any facet of your organization.
A well-branded organization has the ability to be recognized, earn loyalty, and define themselves within their market. However, your efforts to brand your organization won’t get far if they’re not authentic. Don’t try to cast your brand as luxury if you serve price-sensitive customers. Avoid being too “fun” if your ideal customers tend to be more serious. You’ll struggle to deliver the right consistency across platforms if your brand persona is nothing more than a facade.
Consumers trust their friends and families’ opinions far more than even your owned media assets. That’s why every effort to brand your business should include thought toward building a tribe, who will spread your word organically and with a healthy dose of authenticity.
In Fast Company, Mitch Baranowski recommends starting your branding efforts with the people closest to you, which will most likely be your employees, your existing supporters, and their friends. By building excitement around your message with the people who already know and love your brand, the word will spread much more quickly.
While the concept of archetypes may have been defined by famed psychologist Carl Jung, the idea is nearly as old as time. Throughout fables and parables, novels and folklore, there are recognizable types of characters that pop up again and again. This tactic’s been used successfully by more major brands than you probably realize. Microsoft is the boy (or girl) next door, while Apple is the visionary. Taco Bell is a jester, while Volvo is something of a caregiver.
While a basic archetype doesn’t need to control your brand’s entire identity, figuring out where you fit into the classic narrative can significantly streamline your process of creating a compelling brand story.
Virtually everyone knows their company should be relatable, but too few understand what that really means. As author Lewis Howes points out, the heart of the issue here is really empathy. The world’s most relatable brands have made it their mission to understand their customers problems, and focus on being the de facto solution. That’s why Nike represents athletic triumph, and Geico represents price-sensitivity. Know your buyer personas, and be their solution.
If your current content marketing strategy doesn’t include outreach efforts for your existing customers, you’re losing fabulous potential. Remind your clients who you are, and how you fit into their unique lifestyle, in order to remain both top-of-mind and avoid being forgettable. Strategist Daniel Tay highlights the fact that truly epic brands aren’t built overnight, but more usually over decades with the help of consistent efforts.
Regardless of what makes your brand unique, your values need to include authenticity, which is enhanced by honesty. Know what your company doesn’t do well, and focus on enhancing your strengths, instead. Successful beauty entrepreneur Ido Leffler says this very tactic is among their biggest successes to date, and it doesn’t end with focusing their marketing communications on their strengths. “When things go bad you have to be honest about the reality and do everything humanly possible to fix it.”
Even if your organization doesn’t have a non-profit or humanitarian bent, engaging your community in positive and altruistic ways can be an incredible branding action. Whether you choose to donate a portion of your profits or sponsor employee-led volunteer outreach, it’s more than just good PR. Community service can enhance your customer’s perception of your brand, and improve your ability to leverage your employees as brand ambassadors. Studies by RealizedWorth have found that corporate social responsibility programs improve employee engagement and loyalty.
Have you defined your businesses’ unique brand? Share your favorite tips and tactics in the comments!
More than a third of all invoices are paid late. That's a lot. And yet some businesses are brilliant at getting the money they're owed. Instead of waiting weeks or months, they get paid in days. So how do they do it?
We asked 1,500 business owners to share their tips and tricks for getting paid sooner. And we looked at millions of invoices to bring you this guide on invoice payment terms and best practices.
Invoice payment terms spell out how you expect to be paid, and might include details like:
accepted forms of payment (maybe you won’t take credit cards)
the currency you deal in, if you work across borders
late-payment penalties, if you charge them
But perhaps the most important payment term of all is the due date. When do you expect to be paid? Businesses used to always give 30 days but that's changing.
Long payment terms are a throwback to the days of snail mail and payment by check. But now that businesses send invoices electronically and most payment is made online, 30-day terms are obsolete.
If you're serious about the work you do, and you hustle to meet your clients' deadlines, there's no reason why you shouldn’t be paid within a week.
Invoices with short payment terms are more likely to go past due, but you still get your money sooner than if you give three or four weeks to pay.
Data based on millions of US invoices sent over Xero.
You needn’t feel bad about giving shorter invoice payment terms. Close to 75% of invoices ask for payment within 2 weeks, so expectations are changing.
Some customers may expect longer payment terms for bigger bills, but you may be able to negotiate with them. If they ask for a discount, for example, consider requesting faster payment in return.
It doesn’t matter how short your invoice payment terms are if you don’t send the bill on time. Whether you give 30 days to pay, or just seven – the clock doesn’t start ticking until the invoice is in their hands.
Never put invoicing off. Whenever you do, you’re pushing back your payday. Speed up the process by using templates, sending invoices electronically, and even invoicing from your phone (so you can do it straight after a job is done.).
Read our guide on an awesome invoicing process.
Don’t wait until an invoice is two weeks late before reminding a client they owe you. Try sending a friendly email as the due date approaches. Follow up again if they go past due.
If clients don’t respond to emails, pick up the phone. Don't let it drift. It may not be the funnest part of being in business – but it could help you stay in business.
If you don’t have time for all the follow-up, consider:
Get more tips in our guide on how to handle outstanding invoices.
Getting paid and having a healthy cash flow is the lifeblood of every small business, but it’s not always as easy as sending an invoice. The 1,500 businesses that spoke to us about invoicing offered these practical tips:
Discuss payment terms before you get started
Getting this sorted upfront means that there’s no confusion down the track. It also sets the client's expectations around payment before you start the work.
Keep detailed records of inventory and time
Don’t work out your costs at invoicing time, as that will just slow you down. Keep a running record, so the numbers are at your fingertips when you need them. You’ll also be less likely to miss something this way. And if costs are going over budget, you can let your client know, instead of sending them an expensive surprise at the end of the month.
Make the invoice clear and easy to understand
List the details of the job in a way that makes sense to the client – any confusion could create a payment lag. It’s also good to personalize your invoice with your business logo – it helps carry on the professionalism of your work.
Address the invoice to the person paying
Make sure your invoice goes straight to the person who makes payment to avoid getting lost in someone else’s inbox. That will probably be different from the person who ordered the work,. If you’re unsure exactly who’s in charge of accounts, give them a call – it pays to know the person paying the bills.
Invoice as soon as possible
Send your invoice as soon as possible, the sooner a client receives an invoice the sooner they will make payment. It also means they will receive it when the value of your work is still fresh in their mind. Accounting software that lets you create professional recurring invoices will streamline the invoicing process.
Keep talking to your debtors
The squeaky wheel gets the oil. When things become overdue send reminders, monthly statements or make a phone call. It will help remind your client that you are serious about getting the invoice paid. Some accounting software sends you an update when the invoice has been opened.
Add 'overdue' fees
If you've set your payment terms out clearly on your invoice and the client has ignored them, you’re entitled to charge interest in the form of overdue fees. Be prepared for robust feedback from your clients if you go down this route, and consider reversing the charge once the lesson has been learned.
You may have made your first invoices in a standard software package like Microsoft Word. Maybe you even had to search the internet for tips on how to make an invoice.
As you grow, however, a business’s invoicing needs become more complex. Think about how you can create a system that incorporates these tips, speeds up invoicing, and improves cash flow into your business.
Billing software can help. As a bonus, it generally comes as part of an accounting package, which means your books are automatically updated as invoices are issued and paid.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Most people don't know a great deal about invoicing when they start their first business, so it's good to learn from people who have already been there.
Businesses we spoke to said they initially underestimated how much time invoicing would take up. You can spend up to 10% of your work time creating, sending and chasing invoices. That can cause a drag on your other administration work, so be sure to factor this into your planning and accounting strategies – and set up the most time-efficient systems you can.
Being a small business owner often means you’re short on time, but it’s worth making the effort to get your invoicing set up properly. Having a streamlined invoicing process can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend collecting your hard-earned money. And that’s got to be great for your business.