Crucial business tips for the Easter holidays

Crucial business tips for the Easter holidays

Easter is more than just a weekend devoted to gorging on chocolate shaped bunnies and eggs. Depending on what industry you’re in – you’re either in a frenzy to get staff and inventory sorted for a busy period, or preparing for some well-deserved time off over the long weekend. And with the Easter holidays not coinciding with the school holidays there is more  to consider this year. Preparation is key in either case, and that’s why we’ve put together some essential tips to get your business ready for the Easter weekend.

 

Try Easter incentives for customers

Across a variety of SME industries, purchases can be incentivised by adding small festive extras; It could be as simple as adding a little Easter Egg with each purchase, an Easter special offer, a free hot cross bun with every meal or coffee order, or taking a gold coin to guess how many Easter eggs are in a jar. Get festive, and have fun with it.

Get the word out

It’s important to keep your customer base informed of your availability over the holiday weekend. This is especially important for SMEs in the hospitality industry. While some cafes and restaurants will be closed, it’s important to get the word out if you’re staying open – if you hope to take advantage of the reduced competition. Jump on Facebook or Instagram to make a social post, update Google My Business with the ‘Special Hours’ feature to reach those searching for a place that’s open, or if you’re in brick and mortar retail and hospitality; you can get creative with a sandwich board out front to let customers know you’re in business.

 

Stay on top of your finances

For those SMEs keeping busy over Easter, it can be difficult to source the funding required to employ staff on holiday rates, improve shop displays, and cover the cost of extra stock. For those taking the time off, you’ll still have to keep on top of invoices and pay wages for the time you aren’t receiving income. In either scenario, cashflow is key, and getting access to the funds you need is simple and easy with Lulalend. Contact us for a free quote, with no paperwork required. You’ll receive an instant decision on how much you qualify for. Access up to R1 million in 24 hours and make sure you’re Easter ready.

 Click here to apply online

 

In one business day in South Africa…

In one business day in South Africa…

We pride ourselves as one of a new breed of digital-first fintech companies designed from the ground up to support South African SMEs. We’ve spent countless hours refining our scoring technology to ensure we can provide quick, easy short-term funding through a convenient online interface. In some cases, we are able to provide approval on a loan application within a single day – a far cry from the three-month wait most traditional lenders demand.

That got us thinking: what happens in a typical business day? What are some of the main business activities that play out in the time it takes us to process and approve a loan application?

Here are some of the amazing things that take place on an average working day:

  • 8 million people get ready for work at 650 000 SMEs across the country
  • 683 new SMEs are established
  • 868 new SME jobs are created
  • R11 billion in economic value is created
  • 15 million minibus commuter trips take place
  • 6 million people order coffee from an independent coffee shop
  • R101 million is spent on online transactions
  • 8 billion emails are sent and received

See our infographics for more amazing stats

 

 

How can data drive decision-making in small businesses?

How can data drive decision-making in small businesses?

What can data mean for your business?

As a small business there isn’t a lot of room for wasted effort, and yet running a business is fraught with uncertainty. How do you make good decisions? As a business owner, you know that any edge you can get can help. In today’s digital age almost everyone and everything is a potential source of data. Turning that data into insight and then into action can provide you with a valuable decision-making tool.

But what is “data” and how can you get it, and use it? It isn’t magical, and it’s not that mysterious. You may have heard of data being used in big companies such as Google and Microsoft, and you may also have heard about others using your own personal data. It has become a buzzword, and can very quickly lose meaning when everyone is doing something different with it and calling it the same thing.

For a small company that data might be as simple as knowing more about:

  • Who your customers are
  • Where the costs are
  • Tracking the performance of marketing efforts.

Where to start?

 Using data (or information) is basically getting evidence for your assumptions, and can be used as a tool to ensure your business is on the right track. The task of getting your company into the digital age and solidifying your position can be daunting. Where previously, certain decisions might have been driven by intuition and experience, it can now be more difficult to find traction without getting bogged down by the latest trends. Laurie McCabe says that, “The place to start is to ask yourself what you need to know about your business that you don’t know already. What questions do you have that you can’t get answers to today? Everything should be driven from that.”

Don’t waste your time

 You need to figure out what is valuable for your business. It doesn’t help collecting all the data possible, especially if you are a small business where those resources could be better used in other areas. Not everything may be relevant or useful to your business. Whatever data you are going to be looking at it has to be able to influence your decision-making, or be actionable in some way. If you are only collecting data for the sake of it you are only wasting your time. Collecting everything just in case is a lot more stressful than collecting, and measuring, something to answer specific questions.

It is a process of trial and error to find the data that can drive your decision-making. The most commonly used data is that surrounding customers and company processes.

What metrics are important for your business?

 When your business has some information or data to work with (perhaps in an Excel spreadsheet, Google sheet, or in a database) the next best thing you can do is to start tracking key metrics specific to your business. These metrics are often called KPIs (key performance indicators). If you don’t know how your business was doing in the past, you won’t know if you are doing better or worse at present. Data can help you see if the decisions you make are effective, or ineffective.

A simple example might be a delivery service that suddenly has a much further average travel distance. Looking at the data could help you answer important business questions, and help you to respond effectively. Some questions in this example may be as follows:

  • Is this because there is a new cluster of customers further away?
  • What routes are the drivers taking?
  • What times are the peak times for deliveries?
  • Do you need to open up a base of operations in that area to better service these clients?

You wouldn’t know if you weren’t tracking who your customers were over time. Responding to business needs, being aware of changes and trends, and recognising where things should change to be more efficient are all areas where data can help you make informed decisions.

Using data in your company isn’t the answer – but it will help you to ask the most important questions and find some answers along the way. It’s important to remember that the data you are looking for, or choose to use, has to add value to your decision making processes.

Lulalend takes a data-driven approach to ensure that we are meeting the needs of SMEs. This helps us to drive efficiency internally and externally for our clients. Because time is a huge asset for small business owners we ensure that our data-driven approach makes the application process and response time quick and easy. Because of this Lulalend is a leader in the alternative lending space, and often the reasons why small businesses prefer our products and services.

If you haven’t yet applied for funding with Lulalend you can do so by visiting our website and completing our online application form. It takes 10 minutes and you can expect a response within 24 hours or less. If you need to see it to believe it, simply apply here: www.lulalend.co.za

 

Can Facebook advertising really boost my business?

Can Facebook advertising really boost my business?

Facebook has the biggest user base of any social media platform out there, with approximately 2 billion monthly active users. Over and above this, in the second quarter of this year Facebook made 19.6 billion in ad revenue. What is interesting to note off the back of these stats is that there are still business owners who claim that they don’t use Facebook ads because they don’t work, or are a waste of money.

The truth is, Facebook ads can work if there is an understanding of how to build a proper Facebook strategy and assess the ad performance to adjust this strategy accordingly over time. Because small business owners are usually wearing a lot of hats, and managing their marketing on top of their already busy schedules, not taking the time to spend developing a strategy is the biggest culprit to failed Facebook ad campaigns.

Facebook ads can work for virtually any business, all it takes is a bit of know-how, a plan and clear goals and objectives. To help small business owners blow up their business using Facebook ads we’ve put together a few effective ways to go about this.

1. Have a clear strategy

 One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when developing a Facebook ad campaign, is getting going without a strategy. You need to have a plan and you need to make sure that the money you are putting in is actually going to pay off. This is the number one reason some people don’t think Facebook ads work, they put money into Facebook ads without a plan, and are disappointed when they don’t see any returns.

You need to be clear on how much you are looking to spend, how long you want your campaign to run and what results you are wanting to see. This strategy should include who exactly you are wanting to target, what message you are wanting to communicate to them and what action you want them to take in the end.

There are so many companies today who do not give targeting the time and thought it deserves. You need to really think about who you’re targeting, instead of just creating a generic “we sell cycling gear so we target cycler’s.” Spend some time studying your target audience and focus on more than just gender, age and location.

This detail influences how you will be setting up your campaign and what type of Facebook advertising you’ll be using. So, take some time to understand their beliefs, values, interests and lifestyles. You need to really know who you are marketing to when creating ads. This should all be clear in your mind before you launch a campaign.

Once you have launched your campaign make sure you are regularly assessing how it has performed and determine whether you need to make changes such as optimizing the placement of your ad or the message, otherwise you will just keep throwing money into these ads in the hopes that they will eventually work.

2. Know your KPIs

 If you don’t know what your goals and objectives are it is going to be very difficult to know whether your ad campaigns are successful or not. Similarly, if you haven’t been taking note of the metrics that are important to your business, and have nothing to compare your campaign results to, it will also make it difficult to get a holistic picture of the performance of your ad campaigns and the impact that they are having on your business.

Always ensure that you are clear on what you want to achieve and make adjustments to your ads if they are not performing or helping you achieve the desired results.

 

 

Here are some examples to give you an idea of what we mean:

Example 1: If you want to increase your website traffic take note of your current weekly/monthly visits and determine what percentage increase you want to see. Be sure to calculate how much a new visitor is worth to you so that this can also help guide your campaign budget. I.e. How much are you willing to spend/pay for a new visitor to your website?

Example 2: If you want to see more newsletter sign-ups take note of your current number of subscribers and the number of new subscribers you want to see by the end of the campaign. Again, having an indication of how much you are willing to spend on a new subscriber will help you plan your budget. In this case a subscriber might be worth more than just a website visitor. This might mean that you’re willing to put more budget behind this campaign as opposed to example 1.

Example 3: If you are focused on lead generation and website conversions make sure you have a conversion rate in mind so that you can aim to meet that goal. Conversions usually mean revenue and new business. Here it is helpful to ask yourself how much you would be willing to spend to acquire a new customer, a metric known as cost per acquisition (CPA).

3. Tailor your ads to your audience

 Understanding your target market is only half the battle. When it comes time to create Facebook ads, you will see a little box known as Audience Definition. This box tells you who this specific ad will be targeting. One of the best things you can do when focusing on Audience Definition is to think quality over quantity. It can be really tempting to see that your ad could potentially reach 1 billion people, but that is not what you want. You want to focus specifically on your niche to begin with. So, narrow down your audience details.

Pick a few areas you want to target, pick an age range, and even pick some more targeting features like interests, education or relationship status. Ideally, you want your campaign to reach 5,000 to 15,000 people. While it doesn’t sound as exciting as reaching 1 billion people, you are now targeting the right people who are most likely to buy or take action on your product offerings or services.

4. Create compelling text or banner ads

Delivering the right offer, to the right audience, with the right message can be really powerful and persuasive. Some people believe that the ad copy or graphics aren’t an important factor. However, in an online world where people are bombarded by thousands of messages a day, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hundreds, or thousands, of businesses and marketer’s are trying to compete for your attention every minute of every day. That’s the world we live in and you have to stand out from the generic messages that your potential customers are glossing over.

This means creating an engaging headline that will draw people in. Keep the body of your text simple and get straight to the point. Because you only have a few words to work with you need to make them count. Don’t waste your space trying to be super creative. Make it easy to understand and compelling. Your text body should include two things: more details about your offer and then a call to action.

Similarly, with banner advertising, ensure that it’s personalised and that your image reiterates the points you are trying to make in your ad copy. A powerful image can be memorable and engages your audience in a way that text ads simply can’t.

 

Here’s one of our favourite examples:

In one image and some cleverly crafted short copy, Slack has communicated the common pain point of business meetings and that their tool is a solution to better communication and efficiency. They have also depicted the benefit of having that time freed up in a fun, playful way and added a clear call to action so that their target audience knows exactly what to do if they want to find out more about Slack.

5. Run A/B Testing regularly

Once your ad is launched, your work’s not done. You also need to focus some time and energy into split testing. You should typically know within 200 clicks how an ad is doing and whether or not you should adjust the ads. This allows you to launch multiple variations of an ad and quickly figure out which ones are generating the best success rate. At the same time, don’t pull the plug on an ad too soon if you don’t see immediate results. The goal is to not give up too early when split testing, and to give it time.

 

5 email campaigns that those in the hospitality industry need to be sending

5 email campaigns that those in the hospitality industry need to be sending

No matter what motivates anyone to travel (whether it’s business or pleasure) hotel owners, bed and breakfasts, or self-catering accommodation are an indispensable part of travel arrangements. For the small business owner, the challenge is to get in front of those who are looking to make a booking and to build relationships with those who have visited before who could become loyal, repeat customers.

One way to market to new or existing customers and make an impression is to use email marketing. There are tools out there that make email marketing quick and easy, so you ensure that you don’t miss out on opportunities to get in front of travellers. Getting standardised templates for each of these and sending them out at appropriate times can make a difference to your marketing strategy.

Here are some examples of the types of emails that can make an impact to those who have enquired or made a booking with you.

1. Welcome emails

These are usually followed by bookings that have been made and include a thank you message so that the customer aware that their business is appreciated, but also that their booking was successful and you have confirmed the details of their arrival and stay.

But you don’t have to stop there – this is a great opportunity to highlight specials that are coming up, or to share some extra information like a map on how to find your business when coming from the airport. You can even include which transport services to use that offer the best rates. Those coming from out of town, especially from another country, would find this sort of information useful and appreciate you taking some of the stress out of travelling.

Find tips or advice for your guests that suit their reason for travelling. If it’s for business purposes those clients might find it more beneficial to be notified of nice restaurants in the area to take clients to while they are in town, and less interested in how to get to your establishment. Whatever the case, be sure to include information that is helpful in your welcome email – by doing this you go a step further for your clients and leave an impression as you address some of their other travel needs.

2.Recommendation emails

Alternatively, you can use recommendation emails to include helpful tit bits for your customers to know about the area and the city you are located in. Once someone has checked in they may be interested in finding out more about the local attractions in and around the city. This is a great time to send them an email with what they can do in the area, how they get there, the best way to book for tourist attractions, what the most popular restaurants or on-goings are, or even just highlight the services offered at your hotel or bed and breakfast. For example, if you have a pool and other amenities, or you offer a laundry service during their stay it’s a great way to make your customers aware of this on their arrival.

3.Post stay emails

Once your customers have left it’s always good to get feedback and find out how their stay was while thanking them for their business. This is an opportunity for you to learn about what areas you can improve on to ensure you have happy customers coming and going throughout the year.

4.Birthdays and anniversary emails

You can really wow your customers with this one. By wishing them a happy birthday or remembering an anniversary you can offer existing customers special deals around this time. This can encourage them to come back and makes them feel special that you remembered these small details. It makes quite an impression as a brand and shows that you care and value them as much as their business.

5.Sales emails

If you’re running winter specials to get feet through the door then make sure that you communicate this to your database. If existing customers are aware of exciting deals they are more likely to cash in because let’s be honest, everyone likes a good deal. It’s a clever way to entice them or remind them of your business as they plan their annual holidays.

If you’re looking for tools that can help you with these sorts of email campaigns, MailChimp is a great place to start. They make it easy to manage your email marketing and come with standard templates that you can customise to create visually appealing emails that can stand out. Email marketing is a smart way to reach your customers and can impact your business sales while building meaningful relationships with your client base. If you haven’t considered it, think about the missed opportunities that you can now take advantage of.

At Lulalend we know that not all marketing efforts are cheap and easy. So we ensure that we are there to help businesses capitalise on marketing efforts when they need to. We do this by providing small business funding that can help you create some room for a marketing budget when cash flow is tight. Everybody knows that if people don’t know about your business they’re not going to use your business. If you don’t have a marketing budget or need to increase your current budget to get in front of your potential clients, contact us to find out how we can help you with small business funding quickly and easily.

 

Odette Bester

Digital Marketing Manager

Passionately interested in digital marketing and helping businesses focus on building a strong digital strategy through a well rounded and strategic inbound and outbound marketing approach.

 

Top business hashtags you should follow

Top business hashtags you should follow

Once better known as the pound sign or being synonymous with a game of tic tac toe, the hashtag has caused a buzz in the online world. The power and status of the mighty hashtag in recent times cannot be denied. Twitter and Instagram, in particular, have become the popular place to use, or abuse, hashtags and garner attention for them. But for the small business owner hashtags can be a great way to search for information on relevant topics and business news. Gathering information that can help you learn more about business practices is a good way to gain experience and learn from others.

Finding the right hashtags can be tricky so we’ve made a list of the ones worth following or adding to your lists and scroll through on a daily basis.

Hashtags to follow:

 

#Smallbusiness #smallbiz

These two might seem like an obvious choice, but the simplest place is sometimes the best place to start. You won’t go wrong by following these hashtags, they offer useful links to all kinds of resources for small businesses. The hashtag also includes things like SEO tips for small businesses, tools, and apps SMEs can take advantage of, and some motivational quotes to keep you fired up.

#business

Similar to the hashtags mentioned above, this one gives an all-inclusive view of what it really means to be in business. Though this tackles topics for all business sizes, from enterprise to a one-man show, you’ll still find relevant tips from how to create a responsive business website to more general topics on how to grow your business.

#businessowner

 Like-minded individuals will understand what you are experiencing as a business owner because they are experiencing it themselves. This hashtag includes content from a community with common interests and concerns around how to turn their business into a successful company.

#Biztips

We all need a push now and then to get our business off the ground. With links to helpful articles this hashtag also offers bite-size information on the best business practices, decision making and more.

#SMEs #SME #SMB

If you have a small business then it only makes sense to stay in touch with what other small businesses are doing. These hashtags can help you do exactly that. Useful titbits like “Things you may not know about accepting card payment” will get you well on your way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the business world.

#sales

An important part of any business is to bring in new customers, whether you’re product or service focused. If you’re looking for tips on how to attract new customer or retain existing ones, this hashtag highlights sales advice to fine-tune your sales cycle, use content to drive sales or strategies to help convert customers.

#entrepreneurs

This is a hashtag dedicated to people seeking to strike out on their own. It addresses everything from the habits of successful entrepreneurs, what to do with failure, and how to make strategic business decisions. With useful articles like “The 3 Rules of Successful Business as Taught by Seth Godin (and Your Mother)” by Inc, you will get helpful advice to guide you in your entrepreneurial journey.

#management

At some point in your business journey you are going to wind up managing people. This hashtag rounds up tweets on best management practices, advice, and resources.  Sound management skills are precisely what you need to build a lasting and successful relationship with employees and a strong business. This is a good place to brush up on your management skills and learn more about what makes a good manager.

Hashtags have become such a game changer in the digital arena. As a business owner, you need to both use these hashtags in your Twitter campaigns and follow them for some much-needed business advice. It’s always good to know what other entrepreneurs out there are doing to make their business a success, and it gives you an upper hand because you can also get a crash course in ‘what not to do’ as an entrepreneur.

While these hashtags are useful and can help you make better business decisions, sometimes what a business needs is easy access to funding for cash flow or working capital, marketing campaigns, renovations, inventory purchases or a host of other needs. Lulalend can help you access this funding quickly and easily. We provide SMEs with the funds they need to assist their business and the application process is done entirely online in a matter of minutes. With hundreds of businesses using us as the alternative lender, maybe it’s time you checked us out.