5 Tips to Prepare Your SME for 2018

If you’re one of the many entrepreneurs that struggled this year to cope with marketing your brand, managing admin and staying informed of the latest business trends, we’ve got the tips to help make 2018 far more manageable.

Business solutions experts , Sage, revealed that the most common challenges for SMEs this year included completing time-consuming admin, knowing how and where to advertise, understanding the best ways to grow their customer base, and finding time to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices.

2018 will likely present SMEs with its own set of challenges, so implement the following tips to give your business an edge in the new year.

1.    Automate Repetitive Tasks

Just because an SME consists of smaller teams or sole traders, the paperwork still needs doing. Yet, 2017 has seen a huge rise in AI-powered applications which can automate much of this work. What’s more, with competition high between developers, this technology is becoming cheaper and more effective. Instead of wasting time with old practices, use mobile applications to handle finances and customer payments, while integrated software can identify market patterns and streamline operational services.

Services such as People Per Hour and ODesk have been incredibly handy at driving automation, conducting repetitive tasks, and offering competitive prices. We put together a piece on productivity apps and SAAS tools to help your business in 2018.

2.    Delegate, Delegate, Delegate…

SMEs with small teams should make it a value of their business that every employee is also responsible for staying informed about technologies of practices within the industry – information they will then be encouraged to share at regular meetings. Meanwhile, sole traders can receive regular updates on relevant industry information via reports by affordable virtual secretaries or AI-powered assistants, like Siri or Cortana.

3.    Prepare for Premium

Avoid trying to entice premium customers by lowering prices – too low and shoppers will think you are offering low quality. Instead, invest in optimising your website for search engines so users can find you easily, and make sure it is professional, mobile-responsive, and reflects your industry. Once you inevitably win that first premium client, get their permission to use their logo and testimony on your site and in your marketing campaigns to incite confidence in other potential customers.

4.    Copy the Competition

Marketing strategies can be expensive to get right. However, there is someone else that has already done much of this research for you – your competitors. Search for your competition on search engines, social media and in magazines and newspapers to see where they are advertising. Now, copy their approach – it may not be perfect, but it will ensure you begin growing your customer base and allow you some wiggle room to start customising your campaigns over time.

5.    How to Gather Those E-Mail Addresses

E-mail marketing remains the most profitable means of winning long-term customers, with a whopping ROI of 4,300%. However, SMEs have struggled to grow their mailing lists. Marketing automation software allow businesses to include non-invasive pop-ups on web pages which invite users to sign up for the mailing list, while brick-and-mortar stores can post sign-up pages around the store with purchase incentives for customers to leave their contact details.

So, to stay in control next year, make sure to realise the importance of automation and invest in staying informed. The extra time and information you will gather will ensure you have the capacity and the resources to enact best practices, preparing your SME for whatever challenges 2018 will present.

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