Small Business Development Center
At Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry
chemeketa students

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Home-Based Business Group

By Chemeketa SBDC

Join other home-based business owners who want to get out, get together, and work on strengthening their businesses. This month Jennifer Hofmann will lead a discussion on social media tips for small business.

Date/Time: December 11, 11 am – Noon
Location: Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry, 626 High Street NE, Downtown Salem
Cost: FREE


You Can Use QR Codes to Grow Your Business

By Chemeketa SBDC

You don’t have to go far these days to find a QR code.
They are everywhere. You can find them at grocery stores, bus stops, building
facades, billboards, and restaurants. You can even find them on pets and
humans.

According to a recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey,
81 percent of consumers have seen the QR codes but 79 percent don’t really know
what they are. So what is a QR code? QR or Quick Response codes are the barcodes
that encode data both vertically and horizontally and can hold thousands of
alphanumeric characters of information.

By scanning or reading a QR code with your mobile phone
(provided it has the necessary application) you can access a webpage, download a
file, signup for a newsletter, and get contact information. Invented in Japan
for the auto industry, QR codes have been widely used there for years but are
still somewhat of a novelty in the United States. The growing popularity of QR
codes and their ability to hold lots of information are what make them very
practical for small businesses.

The sky is the limit on what and how much you can share
with QR codes. Here are some of the ways you can use QR codes in your
business:

• Business Card: This may be the most common usage for
QR codes. The code contains contact information, website and blog. Keep it
simple.

• Marketing Material: Create a code that directs users
to your website. Include it on posters, flyers, business cards, packaging
material, sides of trucks and trailers, signage, menus, and stickers. A
newsletter sign-up form is another great way to utilize QR codes.

• Social Media: A code that directly links to your
Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page. Include the code on particular promotional
materials and email signature.

• Upcoming Events and Special Offers: Have a special
sale or event coming up? Create a code that takes your clients to the webpage
which provides the details on what the event is all about. Offer incentives for
showing up.

• Useful Information: Code that links to a page with
useful resources – tips specific to your business, how-to-videos, and special
offers.

So how do you generate a QR code? Numerous website are
available for generating QR codes at no charge. Some are very basic (Kayawa or
Wasp) while others let you customize the color and format of your codes (GR
Staff or Kerem Erkan). For a listing of more QR generating sites visit www.freenuts.com.

Tatyana Sukhodolov is training coordinator at the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center. The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center
and appears each Sunday. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.


Time for Mid-Year Evaluation

By Chemeketa SBDC

It’s summer and time to relax, right? Well maybe, but a
better use of time during the summer for business owners is to look at where
you’ve been so far this year and make some mid-year adjustments (if needed).
Here are some areas to tackle.

• Take a survey of everything you’re doing. What is
working for you and what isn’t? Where are you standing right now in terms of
market share and profitability? Extra credit for those wanting to do a SWOT
analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis, it’s a
great tool). Get a clear picture of where your business is right now.

• Is there something that needs to be let go? Changed
significantly? Perhaps something that hasn’t really panned out and it’s time to
let it go? This includes products or services you’re sentimentally attached to,
and perhaps employees who just haven’t been cutting it.

• What about laws, regulations and such? Do your legal
documents (contracts, leases) and employee handbook need a review? Anything out
of date? Any new regulations you need to be paying attention to? Are you keeping
up with everything you need to on this score?

• Keeping yourself safe – what’s your current insurance
coverage these days? Does it still make sense for your business? What about the
physical safety of your premises, and the integrity of your data and computers?
Are you doing regular backups? Ask yourself if you’re protecting your business
properly, and if not, now is the time to do something about it.

• How about those clients – does your business still
align with the demographics of your target customer base? Do you need to work on
a strategy to attract new clients who are different from your current ones? Is
it time to let a sector of your customers go because they’re too difficult to
serve or unprofitable?

• Take a look at your numbers. Well before you have to
worry about inventory or tax season, take some time to look carefully at your
financial reports. Is it time to visit your accountant to discuss strategies for
the rest of the year? Do you need some assistance with deciphering your
numbers?

• How about your stress levels – can you keep working
at the pace you’re currently working? Is it time to regroup and delegate more,
perhaps hire someone, or make other structural changes in your work day? Make
sure you have the time and energy to work on your business (idea development,
planning, strategizing) and not just in your business doing all the little daily
tasks that have to get done.

Marcia Bagnall is director of the Chemeketa Small
Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program.
The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center and appears each
Sunday. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit the SBDC at 626
High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.


Tips to Help you Reach New Customers

By Chemeketa SBDC

Looking for some free and easy ways to reach customers?
These aren’t new, but probably worth revisiting. Incorporate a few of them into
your marketing and results will follow.

• Get a tagline if you don’t already have one (this is
a short phrase or sentence that captures what you do). And then use it all the
time. Print it on the back of your business cards. Put it on every piece of
marketing collateral. Use it until customers won’t hear your business’ name
without mentally reciting it.

• Remember the golden rule of marketing: repeat,
repeat, repeat. People simply don’t register a marketing message the first few
times. Or the first few dozen times. You must repeat your message to the same
audience in the same place, over and over again.

• Make sure people can find you on the web.
Learn about social media, and consider getting a Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Pay attention to your reviews on Yelp or other customer feedback sites. Set up
your free business pages in Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and others.

• Constantly think of filling your customer pipeline.
Make a list of your top 10 prospects or referral sources and keep it on your
desk, your mobile phone, or use it as the “wallpaper” on your computer. Contact
each of them no less than once a month.

• Get out there in person. People do business with
people they know, so build your business network. Attend industry conferences,
join community organizations. Be visible. Connect in person and not just
online.

• Establish a strong company brand and identity. Create
a distinct graphic image—logo, colors, typeface, etc.—that conveys what you’re
about and use them consistently and on everything. This includes your website,
business cards, packaging, newsletters, marketing materials, job ads.

• Tell people what they get (benefits), not what you
and your product/service do (features). All of your materials need to focus on
the benefits the buyer receives—rather than just long lists of features of your
products or descriptions of how you perform your services. Of course, customers
compare features and services, so you’ll need to include those, but always
emphasize the benefits those features bring.

• Get on the email newsletter bandwagon. An email
newsletter is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to communicate with
customers, prospects, and referral sources. Make sure your newsletter provides
some value for the recipient, such as useful information, details on sales, or a
special offer.