Marketing Basics for Small Businesses

In today’s market there are so many things involved with marketing that it can get overwhelming really fast. From branding to advertising to social media a lot of small business owners are getting lost in the question of “where do I start?” In order to answer that question you must first understand the basic goal of marketing: Reaching customers. Potential customers need to hear your message several times, so when the opportunity arises, you are the first company they think of.  It is extremely important that you get your brand across multiple platforms in order to have a successful marketing campaign. So where do you start with marketing?

Like anything in business or life in general, the first thing when it comes to marketing is to get organized. Put time aside to thoroughly brainstorm and come up with a plan on what you would like to tell people about your business. Come up with a less than 30 second spiel that will get people interested and wanting more of what you offer. The goal here is to make sure you will have a great first impression.

The first time someone hears about your company they are going to jump on Google and view your website. If you do not already have a website  for your business then it is strongly advised you make that one of your first priorities in your marketing strategy. There a ton of do it yourself website services where you pay small fee then basically setup the website on your own. This do it yourself approach is not advisable since you usually “get what you pay for” so leave the website building to the experts. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly with search engine optimization to have the best chance at being viewed by internet surfers. A website not only shows you are real and legitimate company but it also gives you an opportunity to offer information to your potential customers.

Marketing on the internet definitely should not stop with getting a website that shows up on Google. Social media branding could be the most effective marketing strategy being used today. Pretty much everyone has a Facebook account so take advantage of the free marketing they offer by creating a business Facebook page. In fact, you should create a page for your business across all of the most popular social media sites like Youtube, Twitter and Linked-In.

Remember the key to marketing is to get your brand across a variety of platforms and hope that enough of your name makes it through to your customers. Business marketing starts with putting together a plan on how to gain that good first impression , getting a functional and professional website built and increasing your company’s presence on social media.

Mobile Apps for Business Operations

Development of mobile apps continues to get bigger and bigger thanks to a new generation of development frameworks, server hosting services and affordable UI design tools. Consumers are using mobile apps in massive numbers and downloaded approximately 197 billion of them  in the year 2017. Usage of mobile applications in the enterprise sphere is also rising since companies are under extreme pressure to accommodate mobile work styles and increase customer engagement.

Organizations are relying more and more on mobile solutions to facilitate business processes, provide training and communicate with employees and partners. Mobile apps are used to assist service and sales personnel in the field and serve as way of accessing business intelligence. Mobile apps have become the standard for operations and business processes in companies around the world. In fact companies that have implemented mobile applications in their operations immediately see increased productivity, reduced paperwork and an increase in revenue.

Mobile applications give businesses continuous access anytime and anywhere to employees and customers over any type of mobile device. When adopting a mobile application it is imperative that the app performs exactly as it is designed to. Mobile apps need to be responsive, reliable and stable. The first impression is everything to prevent the application being downloaded by the user then used once then deleted. This download and drop event occurs in about 70% of mobile applications.

Organizations of all sizes are not doing enough to properly test and monitor their mobile applications before releasing them to the public. 47% of mobile users encountered a problem when accessing an application on their phones or tablets, the most common being slow load times. Poor mobile user experiences has a severe impact to the bottom line by losing customers, losing revenue, increasing marketing costs and receiving negative reviews on social media.

Ensuring quality mobile user experiences and returning customers has never been so critical to a business’s success. In the United States alone about 90% of adults are using their smartphones multiple times throughout the day. 68% of adults are actively using mobile applications every day.  A mobile app is probably not going to save a business from going under but it definitely secures a strong presence in the company’s perspective industry. The convenience factor coupled with taking advantage of cool rapidly evolving technology places businesses on the forefront of the industry. In today’s day and age it is a necessity that businesses have some type of mobile application that is tied to their company.

Streamline Customer Service

No matter the industry, how a company handles their customer service will always be vital to their success. There are so many websites and blogs that are dedicated to catching reviews of businesses that with just one bad experience the bad review reaches thousands of potential customers.  Delivering top of the line customer service can get extremely costly with the rise of labor costs. Technology advances also increases the manpower needed to be able to provide more options for customers to contact the business. Customer service needs to be available via phone, email and live chat support. Businesses around the world have found the most efficient way to reduce customer service costs without losing quality is to outsource all or a portion of the customer service activities.

If done correctly, delegating customer service allows companies to streamline their operations along with being more responsive to their customers.  Outsourcing is not a turnkey immediate solution to customer service needs and companies still need some involvement in the process to prevent losing customers  and negative brand impressions. In order to maintain quality and efficiency all processes require at least some ongoing management and oversight. Outsourcing projects aimed at only cutting operation costs are usually the ones that tend to not do well. Customer service outsourcing needs to have a primary goal of giving the best service to customers followed by reducing the companies expenditures.

For the companies whose primary motivation is increased customer service, not cost cutting, outsourcing provides multiple opportunities for service enhancement, including issue tracking and reporting, backup coverage during peak call times, 24/7 coverage availability and multilingual support. When outsourcing customer service, companies get access to proven world-class  service providers with advanced technology, proper training and manpower that provides efficient and effective service. Benefits of customer service outsourcing can be significant when done correctly.

Customer service outsourcing tends to work better with certain types of companies and challenges. It is easy to justify the cost-benefits when outsourcing customer service responsibilities during holidays and after hours to save the company from paying the overtime salaries. For small to medium-sized businesses that cannot afford additional offices  it is beneficial to outsource customer service so the company appears to be larger and is operating 24/7. Call centers offer a range of service options from fulltime outsourcing to emergency back up support. Most companies elect to use in-house customer service representatives for the high demand issues and leave outsourcing to handle the routine inquiries.

Outsourcing continues to be an effective way to streamline customer service operations. Outsourcing firms are able to provide enhanced customer service support for a lot less than an in-house call center. Companies are able to increase their budget for their core business functions when they save money with customer service outsourcing.

Real Estate Virtual Assistant for 2018

As the U.S. economy starts to really show signs of growth the real estate pros are generally optimistic about the housing market for 2018. Even with the relatively low inventory for available housing the overall demand still remains strong. There are still some rising fears tied to global events with North Korea and how President Donald Trump’s policies would impact the housing market. Still the general consensus is that people are looking to buy so the real estate industry will continue to expand.

The risky but optimistic global economy of 2018 has most real estate firms under pressure to increase their revenue while controlling their costs. Real estate companies are looking to add more agents and support staff to be prepared for their increase in business in 2018. It is key that the additional staff added is done so in the most cost effective way to both take advantage of the growing market and support the back office needs of the organization.

It is no surprise that the combination of these factors have led to real estate firms reaching out to outsourcing companies across the globe to leverage some of their added workload. Tens of thousands of real estate firms are already outsourcing their back office work which in return drastically cuts costs, increases production, improves their service consistencies along with gives main staff more time to focus on their core competencies.  All sorts of smaller jobs can be lifted from the shoulders of the firms agents and handled by an outsourcing company or virtual assistant for a more than reasonable fee. This frees up time for the real estate agents to do what they do best – list and sell property.

In order to truly be in the best possible situation to catch an opportunity, agents need to be able to immediately reply to a request to view a listed property  or respond to an information request. In the real estate industry it is expected that agents be available at all times so any of these requests left unanswered can be the difference between closing a deal and losing a customer. Technology and telephone answering enables real estate firms to say they are open 24/7, someone is always available whatever the time of day or requirement.  Outsourcing the simple tasks of appointment setting and basic reception is just the surface of how the real estate industry is preparing for the expected growth in 2018.

Outsourcing Philippines or India

When it comes to business process outsourcing Philippines and India are usually the first countries to come to mind. This is no surprise since they have more than a adequate number of skilled workers with a good grasp of the English language. Those generalities are pretty much where the similarities end when outsourcing to Philippines or India. Past events in each of the countries have shaped the cultures differently which in return separates them as far as skills in the BPO industry. The Philippines culture has characteristics that lineup really well with customer service and voice type outsourcing while India tends to do better with the technological stuff like software development.

The literacy rate in the Philippines is above 97% and will only increase once the newly adopted K-12 education system starts to take its toll. English is the primary language used in schools and the Philippines consistently is at the top of the list of countries in business English proficiency. Philippines has a strong link to Western culture and their English has more of an American accent since they were once colonized by America. Philippines is the most favored offshore destinations for outsourcing voice operations. Filipinos are customer-oriented so the outsourcing operations specialize in customer support serves and has become a favorite among famous companies like Sprint and Amazon.

English in India has more of an British type of accent since they were colonized by Britain for so long. Over 60% of UK companies are outsourcing some or all of their work to India. India’s education system is also like Britain’s where it tends to focus more on mathematics and sciences. This makes India the first choice when outsourcing software development. The National Association of Software & Service Companies (NASSCOM) reported that almost half of all Fortune 500 companies choose to outsource software development to Indian outsourcing firms. Ford and Cisco are a couple of the most popular companies that outsource software development to India.

When choosing whether to outsource to either the Philippines or India it comes down to what kind of services the client needs. A small consideration should also be given to the different types of accents when outsourcing voice services. Philippines for the most part speaks American English while India speaks more like the English in the UK. Philippines is usually the best bet for customer service outsourcing. India has a pretty type grip as the go to spot for IT and software development outsourcing. As the competition gets stiffer though both countries are closing the gap on all business process outsourcing services and it makes for an even better experience to the clients when outsourcing to Philippines or India.

Outsourced Prospecting

Keeping a sales operation healthy means having a steady source of quality prospects. A sales tunnel is widest at the beginning of the sales process and then narrows down to potential customers. In order to even have those potential customers the funnel must be filled with prospects. It is no secret that salespeople find cold calling and prospecting as one of their least favorite tasks. Regardless of how important prospecting is to growing their customer base, in-house representatives would much rather be focusing on closing deals. Outsourced prospecting lets the sales representatives do just that.

Prospecting is such a tedious task that people will do whatever it takes to find something else to work on. Even when they do decide to pursue cold leads they are usually quick to give up after just a few rejections. A large percentage of cold leads require some pleasant persistence. Outsourced prospecting agents are masters at being persistent and have no problem cold calling thousands of numbers for 8 hours a day. Even in the rare occasion a company has a sales team this determined to find prospects it still costs a fortune to maintain. Outsourced prospecting can be acquired for pennies on the dollar and produce better results

Getting prospects from an outsourcing company ensures the sales pipeline never runs dry. When companies outsource they become more resilient since this approach mitigates operational risks. They are not hiring an employee but hiring a process that has a clear outline and agreement. Output speed and quality does not vary with employee vacations or illnesses. Companies know what to expect with outsourced prospecting which makes managing the pipeline and predicting future sales simple.

Once a company decides to outsource prospecting they will no longer need to focus on this function. This provides the sales team the benefit of re-allocation and increasing productivity since the burden of this time consuming task is off of their plate. Sales associates will have more time to meet these qualified prospects and sell to them. Outsourced prospecting handles the entire process, uncovers great sales leads and builds prospect databases for sales teams to go in and close, filling the sales funnel with opportunities and boosting the sales operations performance. Increase the bottom line with outsourced prospecting!


Benefits to Outsource Database Management

Small to medium-sized businesses heavily rely on internet technology and databases to keep their operations running. Marketing and sales activates, customers information, administration and accounting records along with customers interactions are all stored in these crucial databases. Companies must have up to date and properly functioning databases to monitor the core direction and developments of their business. Information technology and databases are becoming more and more vital to a business’s success which in return increases overall operating costs. Business outsourcing companies continue to stay on top of this trend and can seamlessly take over database management.

Outsourcing database management basically cuts through the clutter and streamlines the entire database process. Outsourcing companies can quickly handle any database project and already have IT systems and subject matter experts in place to get the desired results business’s look for. Companies today are for the most part always-on but are lean on IT staffing, making it difficult to give that true around the clock support. This means they do not have time to focus on the bigger and more important tasks like developing new applications or improving operational efficiencies. BPO companies offer 24/7 database support in the most efficient way. Outsourcing database processes frees up a business’s internal staff so they can focus on those core projects directly affecting the bottom line.

Cost savings are usually the most tangible benefit and give instant gratification when outsourcing database management. BPO companies give businesses access to a larger variety of talent at a small fraction of the cost to hiring specific internal full-time employees to handle database management.  According to a study by the MIT Sloan Management Review, 300 U.S. companies who spent $96.1 million on IT outsourcing yielded a savings of $121.1 million in operating costs and other non-IT functions.

Database management cost time and money but does not directly affect business growth. It is one of those “keep the business running” processes that are perfect for getting outsourced. Outsourcing database management greatly reduces costs, increases reliability and frees time for key players to focus on the core projects needed for business growth. The benefits of outsourcing are too great for small to medium-sized businesses to not at least consider outsourced database management as a practical solution moving forward.

Effortless Bookkeeping

Keeping your finances in check is one of the most important parts of running your business. Bookkeeping is a tedious task that no business owner or manager should have to get involved with. Save yourself the time and agony of all the fine detail tracking and recording. Focus on the bottom line! Small businesses around the world have had great success using outsourcing services. Outsourcing is the key to Effortless Bookkeeping.

Saving time is the most obvious benefit of outsourcing but that is not where it ends when it comes to bookkeeping outsourcing. When you outsource bookkeeping and other financial processes you reduce the risk of fraud in your business. You need to ensure separation of duties and privacy when dealing with the businesses finances. No better way of accomplishing that than to hire an outsourcing company located overseas to handle it for you. Outsourcing is the key to Effortless Bookkeeping.

Most small businesses and startup companies have limited resources so their bookkeeping tasks fall to someone that has a much larger role in the company. Let’s face it, creating business strategies and closing deals take priority. With that, bookkeeping processes get mismanaged and placed on the back-burner. Hiring a bookkeeper will ensure all financial reporting is on time and 100% accurate. Outsourced bookkeepers are inexpensive and experts in these tedious bookkeeping tasks. Outsourcing is the key to Effortless Bookkeeping.

Outsourcing bookkeeping is a no-brainer when it comes to cutting costs. In-house bookkeepers usually have a base salary of about $30-40K before any overhead costs. Add that extra 25% to factor in benefits, taxes, facility cost, etc., and you are at about $50K for bookkeeping. With outsourcing there are is no overhead costs, you pay a monthly flat rate (around $1000) which covers all bookkeeping needs. Add it all up and you save more than 75% when you outsource bookkeeping. Don’t forget the training and management costs you are cutting. Outsourcing is the key to Effortless Bookkeeping ­for pennies on the dollar.

Bookkeeping will always be one of those important administrative tasks that nobody likes to do. Bookkeepers are experts at this stressful, confusing and time-consuming process. Using an outsourcing company is the most efficient way of handling your bookkeeping processes. Keep your finances up to date with little cost and no effort. Outsourcing is the key to Effortless Bookkeeping.

Why India’s call center industry is struggling

Why India’s call center industry is struggling

India has been one of the major players in the BPO industry, it’s believed that India’s BPO sector started in the mid of 1980s and grew tenfold since then. As a matter of fact, India’s gross domestic product is largely composed of the BPO sector, this is how influential the BPO industry is in the country’s economy. However, after dominating the offshoring industry — which dominates nearly half of the global offshore market — for decades, India’s BPO sector is struggling: an unexpected stumble, especially in the voice and call center industry.

A large number of call center firms in India have been keen in transferring their operations outside the country, eyeing the Philippines as the new call center hub in Asia. There are many reasons pointed out by call center firms as to why they are moving their basic back office services out of India. Despite the mass layoff in the BPO industry in India, the country still largely enjoys the largest share in the BPO market. However, they are losing more than 70 percent of their voice and call center businesses to the Philippines.

As mentioned, there are many reasons why call center firms are moving their services to the Philippines. Notably, India has been suffering from a shortage of English proficient talents, the rise of labor costs in the country greatly rationalized the call center sector as well.

In addition to that, despite having a large number of college graduates a year — composed of 3 million college graduates a year, only a fraction of this figure is capable of being employed. As a matter of fact, the problem doesn’t end there — keeping the call center agents is another struggle. According to Forbes, young Indians working as call center agents are susceptible to cultural shock and high work burnout. As an illustration, call center agents are taught of Western cultural mannerisms to “boost English proficiency and conversational skills” — however, the primary goal of this is to eradicate the Mother Tongue Influence — in which Indians are known for their very distinct accent. In fact, almost all Indian call center employees are suffering from culture shock and social trauma, which is why employee retention in the industry is very difficult.

Aside from rising labor costs and shortage of talents, the call center industry in India is largely hampered by linguistic and cultural compatibility. These setbacks on the voice service sector in India have been viewed as the detrimental factors in the struggling growth of the industry.

Why BPO companies are shifting to the Philippines

Why BPO companies are shifting to the Philippines

In the past years the Philippine economy grew rapidly and even outpaced China’s slowing economy. As a matter of fact, World Bank and other international institutes even consider the Philippines the new Tiger Economy in Asia. The strong manufacturing sector, flourishing remittances of overseas Filipino workers and other economic stimuli used by the Philippine government greatly help to rebuild the country’s feeble economy, which was considered before as “The sick man of Asia”. — But not known to many, the BPO industry has also played a vital role in the success of the country’s sturdy economy.

The Philippines has been slowly overtaking India as the top destination of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies especially call centers. There are many reasons why BPO firms are shifting their service to the Philippines. As an illustration, India has been one of the pioneers of the BPO industry in Asia. However, a lot of factors have been pointed out by BPO firms which greatly hampered the industry. The industry has been battling with the complicity of labor conditions, poor infrastructure, lack of data protection laws and social economic & political instability. As a matter of fact, according to The Economic Times, India has been losing 70 percent of voice and call center businesses to the Philippines.

The Philippines, on the other hand, as the emerging leader in the BPO industry, has been heavily investing in developing the BPO industry through legislation and using different economic stimuli to increase government spending in infrastructure and improving the socioeconomic structure of the country, to better accommodate the industry which is expected to surpass the overseas Filipino workers’ remittance (which the country’s economy partially relies on) by 2017.

The economic and political stability of the country, as well as government support for the IT/BPO sector, has been instrumental to why BPO companies are shifting their eyes to the Philippines. As a matter of fact, a lot of BPO firms are confident with the Philippines for passing good laws needed by the industry. In addition to that, the Philippines meets labor standards, which greatly concerns BPO firms.

However, despite crippling India as the leader in the BPO industry in Asia, the Philippines still faces different challenges, particularly the competitions between ASEAN countries through 2015 ASEAN Integration.