Small business agony uncle on breaking into the beauty market.
James Caan is a British-Pakistani entrepreneur and television personality. He is CEO of private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw. In October 2007, Caan joined the panel in the fifth series of BBC Two's Dragons' Den. Having founded the Alexander Mann Group in 1985, a recruitment company with a turnover of £130m and operations in 50 countries, Caan sold the company in 2002. Caan also co-founded executive head-hunting firm Humana International with his partner, Doug Bugie, growing the business to over 147 offices across 30 countries from 1993-1999. In 2001 Caan was awarded the 'BT Enterprise of the Year' award for outstanding success in business and having already been a finalist in 2000 he was named PricewaterhouseCoopers 'Entrepreneur of the Year' 2003.
Small business agony uncle on breaking into the beauty market.
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Small businesses can generate a buzz and sales by putting resources to good use and knowing their aims and their market. Marketing your business is vital. Once the services and products you have to offer are ready, you need to get your name or brand into the marketplace to generate sales.
Latvia is set to become the 18th member of the eurozone next year after the European Union gives it the green light tomorrow when it is expected to publish a report stating that the Baltic state meets all the criteria for membership of the single currency.
Online marketing is an important skill to master for SMEs. Join our live Q&A at 1pm on Thursday for expert tips• Sign up here for details of upcoming live Q&AsThe internet provides an array of new opportunities for SME owners. Having a good website is invaluable to businesses in almost every industry and using social media correctly is a low-cost way to help you create a brand identity and raise awareness.Many business owners may want to take one step further and undertake more sophisticated forms of online marketing and in this sense, being a small business can be beneficial. In a column for the Small Business Network, James Caan explained: "Startups have the benefit of being free and unbound by the constraints faced by large corporates when it comes to advertising. Have some fun with how you choose to advertise your business and capture your target customers' attention."For example, if you're a local business offering a service, you may think that the best way to get customers to come to you is by making sure they can find you through a relevant Google search. In these types of situations, it might be worth investing more heavily in search engine optimisation (SEO).Conversely, businesses which offer a lot of great deals and new and diverse products may choose email marketing as their most effective technique. If you're running a small bar or cafe you may find social media is a great way to spread the word, whereas if you're in the online retail industry affiliate marketing might be the way forward for you.There are a number of different types of online marketing, and there isn't one rule which will fit every business. Although the options may seem overwhelming, business owners should be optimistic, as research suggests many types of online marketing can be cheaper and more effective than the more traditional avenues. So how can you go about making sure your online marketing budget is put to good use? Which are the best options for your business? What can you do yourself and what should you outsource? To answer all your questions about online marketing, we've put together a panel of experts who will be online between 1pm and 2:30pm on Thursday 30 May. Leave your questions in the comment section below and pop back to join in our live Q&A.This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To receive more like this you can become a member of the Small Business Network here.Winning new businessSmall businessMarketing & PRSirena Bergmanguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
For small businesses, getting their products to a wider market can be hard, but James Caan has some helpful tipsAs a new business, breaking into a market and trying to encourage people to buy your product can be a daunting task – and, yet, it's your business's lifeline. How you approach sales is therefore pivotal when it comes to making your startup business a success.You must think carefully about the sales journey and how you are going to go about getting your product to market. Ultimately, your end goal will always be to make as many sales as possible without overstretching yourself in the early stages. It is, however, vital that you consider what else it is that you are trying to achieve. How you are going to break into the market effectively while creating brand loyalty and engaging your customers?When it comes to effective selling, making purchases convenient for your customers is key. Spend time exploring how best to reach your customers and ensure that your product is readily available in the places your target market shops. It is important to consider your brand when considering points of sale.Having an online presence is a great way of drumming up sales as a startup business, and trading online will allow you to capture new customers.It is extremely important that you sell with passion. People like to buy from somebody who they feel they can trust. Speak directly with as many potential customers as possible and make sure your personality comes through; know your product inside out, and act with integrity. When it comes to pitching your product, make sure you are fully prepared and cut to the chase – what is it that you are selling and why do your customers want it?Attending trade shows is a fantastic way to start selling effectively. Not only can you build a rapport with potential customers, you can meet people who may be in the position to offer you third party sales opportunities. One of our Start-Up Loan recipients, Dominique Baptiste, has achieved some great results from attending trade shows while representing her company, Teddy & Lu, which produces gourmet, hypoallergenic pet food.On one occasion, Baptiste secured a stand at a top pet trade event. Prior to attending, she contacted the pet food buyer of a leading retailer and invited him along. The buyer accepted her invitation and was extremely impressed by her and her product. She followed up by sending some samples across, and has now entered into an exciting opportunity with the retailer.Baptiste received a great deal of interest, and sold numerous cases of dog food, having made the decision to offer it at a heavily discounted price at another pet show, this time aimed at consumers. This customer engagement has helped her develop brand awareness and loyalty as she remains in regular contact with a number of these customers through her social media sites, where people provide feedback and send photographs of their dogs enjoying Teddy & Lu.When it comes to getting your product stocked in shops, it is important that you get yourself in front of the decision maker. Having secured a meeting with the senior buyer at a leading online stockist, Baptiste made the decision to conduct the pitch personally as the managing director rather than sending a sales representative, as the company had expected. The senior buyer made the decision to stock Teddy & Lu's products on the spot.When you find yourself in front of a buyer who is interested in what you are selling, listen carefully to what they tell you about pricing, size, packaging and delivery times. They know the market inside out, so treat the meeting as front-line research.Once you have closed the sale, you need to work on building brand loyalty to encourage repeat custom. You may consider offering free local delivery, free returns, or running promotional deals. Exclusive special offers to online customers won't have too big an impact on your bottom line, but can strengthen loyalty and improve customer satisfaction. Ensure that you are meeting the needs of existing customers. Seeking and responding to customer feedback at the point of sale and after they have used the product is a great way to improve sales, encourage repeat custom and improve your offering.James Caan is chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company. Each fortnight he will be tackling a different business issue. Keep up to date by visiting the network and signing up to our weekly newsletter. We welcome your suggestions for future topics and questions for James regarding your own business – please share them in the comments thread belowThis content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To receive more like this you can become a member of the Small Business Network here.Winning new businessSmall businessJames Caanguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds