Top 4 Quick Travel Marketing Tips

The majority of people love to travel, which is why you may think that travel marketers have it easy.

Well, the truth is that the opposite is the reality, because the travel industry competition is stiff and fierce. That’s not to mention that things fluctuate greatly between seasons and between destinations, which complicates things even further.

But even with the travel industry expected to grow even further and competition getting even more fierce, the truth is that marketing your travel business also doesn’t need to be as difficult as you may have initially suspected.

Here are the top four quick tips for travel marketing:

1 – Summer and Winter Are Your Seasons

These are the seasons when people are the most likely to book for travel, with a nearly 30% increase in travel searches during this time. Specifically, December, January, July, and August are the top four months of the year when people are booking the most flights and hotel rooms.

Therefore, these are the months of the year when you will want to be focusing your marketing efforts the most intensely.

2 – Bid Lower During Those Months

While you may think that you should bid higher during those months when people are going to be booking far more flights and hotel rooms, the truth is that’s the exact same strategy that most if not all of your competition is going to be using as well. Instead, bidding your prices just a hair lower can be the best strategy to stand out more and gain you more sales. Just don’t bid too low, because you still want your business to turn out a profit.

3 – Be Informative

It may be a good idea to be informative and to go as far as to start a blog about travel tips and advice. That way, people may find out about your travel agency or business through your blog first. Just make sure that your blog truly is informative and educational. Beyond generic subjects like ‘top travel tips for beginners,’ you can get more serious and specific with subjects such as visa application rules by country or the best hotels by city.

4 – Be Visual

A major mistake that travel agencies make these days is that when marketing, around two thirds of all advertisements are just dull text ads.

When people are traveling or planning to travel, they don’t just want to read or hear about the destinations. They want to actually see those destinations. That’s exactly why images and videos need to dominate your websites, mobile apps, and advertisements all at the same time in order to make them significantly more captivating.

Travel Marketing Tips

All in all, these are the top four travel marketing tips that you will be unwise to ignore: marketing the most aggressively during the summer and winter, bid lower if possible) to stand out more, be informative and educational in your website, and be visual in your advertisements.

The Business Owner’s Guide To Hiring Financial Advice For The 1st Time

Getting a business off the ground requires a firm take-charge attitude. If you don’t steer it decisively in the right direction, no one else will.

But you can’t maintain that level of control indefinitely, because handling the regular operations of a growing business is arduous and relentless work.

Sooner or later, you need to find a way to delegate some of the workload. The more responsibilities you maintain, the harder it will be to pursue your overall business goals, let alone maintain a work/life balance. There are only so many hours in a day.

Now, any business owner will tell you that financial management can be a massive headache. As such, when you reach the point of seeking assistance, that’s the logical place to start.

But how do you go about it? What should you look for? How can you make sure you get great advice that will save you money and free you up to focus on the rest of your business?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know when hiring your first business financial advisor.

Always Check Credentials
I’m the CEO of Microsoft. You know that isn’t true, of course, but most false claims aren’t quite that easy to identify. This is especially the case if they involve subjects or terminology that you don’t know much about.

Unfortunate as it is, it remains the case that people are often willing to make exaggerated or entirely-baseless claims about their skills in order to get work, so there’s every chance you’ll encounter some while looking for a financial advisor.

At a minimum, you should look into your prospect’s:

● Previous clients.
● Relevant industry experience.
● Cloud bookkeeping and accounting expertise (the cloud can save you time).

Even if you think you have a solid grasp of the terms and can tell when someone isn’t quite what they claim to be, take the time to do a formal check. Do some research into their background, contact some references, and, if possible, run their pitch by someone whose financial expertise you trust.

Is it safe to say you’d do your due diligence before buying a business (rummaging under the hood, checking the analytics, making sure it weren’t too good to be true)? I’m particularly careful, so I’d do my due diligence before doing something as pedestrian as buying a new coat.

Ask questions, read reviews, get external confirmation— skepticism is healthy. Don’t put it aside because you want to be nice and give the benefit of the doubt.

Maintain Realistic Expectations
If all goes well, your financial progress will be like tending a flourishing garden. You’ll distribute the right kind of soil, plant the seeds, water them appropriately on an indefinite basis, and eventually you’ll see blooming flowers.

Thus, if a prospective advisor leads you to believe that you’ll plant some magic beans and wake up to a towering beanstalk, they’re selling you a fantasy.

Yes, anyone can go online and start selling things without much preparation or financial investment—but while technology has made taking the first step that easy, it hasn’t changed the nature of business development. It’s still a complex process that (almost always) gets results very gradually.

Anyone claiming financial expertise should be perfectly aware that disproportionate profits or guaranteed results are wholly unrealistic, and you should decisively back away from anyone who paints a picture of the future that seems too good to be true.

Establish Clear Terms
It’s the nightmare scenario: six months after taking on a financial advisor, you can’t say conclusively what they’ve done. What’s more, their payment requests are variable and feel arbitrary. What, specifically, are you paying them to do?

It’s unlikely that it would be quite that bad, admittedly, but there’s simply no reason to leave any element whatsoever to chance when you can get everything confirmed before you get started.

How often will you communicate? What level of access will they have to your records? If you’ve set up an online business, will you require them to explain how tax works for ecommerce? What payment arrangement is best?

Have them answer all of your questions, and answer all of theirs, then draw up and agree on a clear and comprehensive set of formal terms, including a service level agreement.
Avoid Hiring Your Friends
You like your friends, presumably, and trust them. If you didn’t, you likely wouldn’t be friends with them. And if you happen to be friends with someone who has financial expertise, then that’s a perfect fit for your business, isn’t it?

Well, no. It might sound like a good arrangement, but mixing the personal with the professional is dangerous, and all the more so when it comes to something as important as the financial condition of your business.

Even if you have good intentions, getting personal attachments and feelings involved in your business will make it harder to reach rational conclusions and measure success accurately.

Your business decisions need to be made carefully and, for the most part, dispassionately. Take occasional tips from your friends if you must, but ultimately hire someone who can do their work at an appropriate distance.

Explain Your Goals
The financial advice you receive will shape the progress of your business over months or even years, yet it is fairly rare for there to be only one viable path to take; so which one will your advisor recommend?

This will depend heavily on their analysis of the figures, of course, but also very meaningfully on what is most important to you, and what your ultimate goals are.

Taking the time to explain your business plan in detail and elaborate upon where your business priorities lie will ensure minimal friction in the professional relationship and help you get the most useful advice for you.

Keep Asking Questions
Once you’ve vetted and hired a financial advisor, you should resist the temptation to passively defer to them on every matter, and motivate yourself to ask plenty of questions.

This isn’t to say that you should be hyper-critical of every single recommendation or piece of analysis; it’s more a matter of staying involved and learning more about business as you go.

You should get to grips with any accounting software or platforms they recommend and keep adding to your internal knowledge base as an entrepreneur.

Even if you’re so happy with your financial advisor that you end up working with them for years to come, you will benefit from understanding finance better.

It will also make their job easier, as they will ultimately need to spend less time explaining their ideas to you, giving them more time to focus on the good stuff: saving you money.

Are you looking to hire financial advice for the first time? There are a lot of incompetent or unethical advisors around who will take advantage of you given the chance, so follow all of these tips, be thorough, and make sure you hire someone with the credentials and background to warrant your confidence.
—————-

Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who understands the vital role sensible financing plays in driving business growth. You can read more of her work on her blog Victoria Ecommerce.

Smart Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners

Blogging is a great way to create content that will bring traffic to your website, and start selling online. As a small business, you’ve got a lot of competition out there. With these blogging tips though, you can stand out from the crowd and show your readers why they should buy with you.

Blog Regularly
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide how often you’re going to blog. Can you do it daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Now’s not the time to make lofty goals that you can’t possibly reach. Be honest with yourself about how much time you have to dedicate to this project of your business. If you can only blog once a month, stick to that goal. The key is to update regularly, so search engines can see you’re a current site and rank you accordingly and send potential customers to pages of your business’ blog. To do this you can create your blogging or content calendar and write down all the dates and ideas you have.

Get Those Backlinks
One of the best ways to get readers to find your business’ blog is to get backlinks. These are links on other sites that direct readers to your own blog. As well as helping you find readers that way, they also help your SEO as they show you’re a reputable site. One of the best ways to do this is to create your business’ page on different trusted directories. Also, to show that you’re an expert in your business niche you can guest blog on other websites. When you do this, you can provide a backlink in return on your site. Ensure you’re citing their site properly when you do so, so they get the benefit of it. Use a tool like Cite It In to help you do this and to cite references to stats and recearches.

Think About Length of Posts
There’s a lot of debate about the length of posts you write for your blog. Which is best? Shorter blogs are good as they condense a lot of information into a short space. This is perfect if you’re writing for people who are on mobile, as many of your readers will be. Longer posts, though, are better for going into more detail. And some topics need fewer words. Just keep an eye on your length with Easy word count as you write.

Write Quality Posts
Yes, that’s easier said than done. However, readers can tell if they’re reading a quality post within seconds. If they’re not, they’ll just click away. Ensure that you’re writing posts your readers can use. They should be informative and entertaining to them and give them something that they wouldn’t have had before visiting your blog.

Beware of Plagiarism
Plagiarism is becoming a big problem online these days. Even if you’re actively avoiding it, you can still be caught out. Search engines will rate you down if you’re found to be using other people’s work and passing it off as your own. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to run your writing through a plagiarism detector such as PlagScan or Academized before you publish it.

Watch Your Grammar
Good grammar is the basis of any good blog. Without it, your writing won’t look expert or professional, which is what you need. Even more, grammar mistakes can drive customers away from your business. That’s why you need to have a good handle on your grammar. Check your writing to see if there’s any grammatical mistake before you publish, and work on improving your weak points. Services like State Of Writing and Grammarix can help you improve your grammar, and the quality of your writing.

Become the Go to Blog in Your Area
Whatever your business blog is about, you should aim to become the go-to blog in your business niche. Are you selling children’s craft materials? Then you can be a blog full of ideas for school and at home crafts, updated with the seasons. You want people to come to your blog, as you’re the one with all the ideas and information that they need and the product. Think about what you can bring to your niche, and make yourself indispensable as a blog.

Proofread and Edit Every Time
Before you post anything to your blog, ensure that you’re proofreading and editing it before you do so. You may think you’ve written the piece well, but there’s sure to be a mistake or two that you won’t spot until you make the post live. As mentioned above, mistakes make you look unprofessional and that’s the last thing you want. Give yourself time to sit and proofread your writing, ideally at least 24 hours. This means you won’t be editing in a rush, where you might miss something. If you’re unable to edit yourself, services like Paper Fellows and Big Assignments can help.

These tips are all recommended by expert bloggers, so you should try them out for yourself. Getting started is easier than you’d think, and once you’re writing you’ll find that there are lots to say about your subject. Give your readers what they need and they’ll keep coming back for more.

The In-Depth Guide To Selling Your eCommerce Business

After building a successful eCommerce business, you can look back and see the massive amount of time and money it has taken you to get to this point — the point where you are generating profits and enjoying more free time.

However, after building a successful business, many entrepreneurs feel like there’s always something more, encounter a situation in their personal lives that requires a quick cash influx, or have gotten burned out from the incredible amount of work they’ve gone through.

When that happens, it may be time to sell the business you’ve built.

Whether you’re looking to focus on a new, bigger project, you want to put out fires in your personal life, or you need the time (and money) to step back and figure out what your next move is, selling an established eCommerce business can be incredibly profitable for you.

To make a profitable exit, and get the most value from the sale, you’re going to need to step out of your entrepreneur shoes and step into an investor’s shoes, since they’re the people who are going to dictate how much money you’re going to get out of the deal.

Figuring out a baseline value for your store is the first step, and can be one of the hardest things you’ll do — outside of mentally preparing yourself for letting go of your business.

At the end of the day, no two businesses are exactly alike and there is a wide range of variables that go into figuring out how much your specific business is worth.

That means figuring out what investors may be willing to pay for your business can be difficult to do.

At Digital Exits, we’ve made it our sole mission to understand what investors are looking for when they’re ready to buy and how business owners can implement those factors into their business.

To help you wrap your head around the entire process, you need to understand one critical point. The reason investors are willing to buy your business is because that business will generate an income for them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Those investors want to turn a profit, and the first question they’re going to ask themselves when they’re thinking about buying the business is “how long is it going to take me to earn my investment back?”

In order to get the highest sale price possible, you’re going to need to look at the business like an investor will look at the business, and then address the areas of concern that investors are going to be digging into in order to knock your sale price down.

You can start by answering the following questions:

What do your annual sales numbers look like?

This is going to be the biggest factor that determines how much your store is worth. Some investors will look at your average yearly sales over the past 3 years, while others are going to look at the last 12 months.

The key here is to show stability and have sales numbers that are easy for your investor to verify. If the numbers can’t be easily verified, your investor will assume that you’re hiding something and then think that you’re hiding other things, causing the deal to fall flat.

How much profit is generated from those sales, annually?

Your annual net profits is the meat and potatoes of your store. While having a high sales volume is attractive for most investors, if your profit margins are slim or near non-existent, it’s going to be hard to get an investor to move forward with the deal.

Before you start listing the business for sale, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve increased your profit margins as much as possible, either by negotiating better terms with your suppliers or by cutting expenses. Then, give those new changes time to stabilize.

Is your store currently growing?

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to sell their business when the traffic and sales have begun to decline. This usually happens because they are burned out and can no longer give the business the attention it deserves.

While some investors still may be interested in buying the business based on past performance, you’ll need to go into the process expecting to validate why the business is declining, and accept a lower valuation as a result.

Investors want to see growth, or problems that can easily be fixed that will result in growth down the line.

How are you driving new sales?

Are you currently running different promotions to drive new sales to your store? Have you tapped into influencers in the past that are still sending sales to your store? Or are you running paid advertising campaigns?

The methods you’re using to generate sales will affect what the store is worth to an investor. The more work they have to do to maintain the sales volume you’ve established, the less they’re going to be willing to offer to buy the business.

This is even more true if your sales have begun to decline and you don’t have plans in place for recovering the lost sales volume.

Can you sustain the new growth?

If you are driving new sales to the store, do you have the capacity to handle those sales? Do you have the inventory and shipping solutions needed to handle a new influx of customers? Do you have the support channels in place to handle problems as they come up?

With the new sales that you’re driving, can the increase be sustained on its own? Or will your investor need to put in more time and money to maintain the growth?

Answering this question and having plans in place to not only handle the new growth, but to sustain that growth into the future, your business is going to be more attractive, and worth more money to an investor.

How are you acquiring customers?

Which channels are you using to acquire new customers? Can your investor take over those sales channels after they buy the business from you? Do you have systems in place to maintain a relationship with those customers that your investor can take over?

Bringing in new customers is only a single part of the bigger equation. How you’re fulfilling those customer orders, providing service to those customers, and making sure you can bring them back to your store again and again are other areas investors will look at.

How much are you spending to acquire customers?

Paid advertising is a huge marketing channel for eCommerce stores, but one that cuts into your monthly net profits — which investors use to determine your store’s true value.

You’re going to want to have detailed statistics about the traffic you’re buying, how much you’re spending, where that traffic is coming from, where it is going, and, most importantly, how it converts into a new customer when it lands on your store.

Be prepared to turn this information over, and make it easy for your investor to verify.

How are you positioned in the market?

Your competition and how you’re able to stand up against them is another area that your investors are going to be looking into. That means you need to examine how you’re positioned in your market and be able to back up your claims during the negotiation process.

Identify who your competition is, what they’re doing well, and where they are weak. Then look at your own business and figure out your own strengths and weaknesses.

Play on your strengths during the negotiation process, but be honest about your weaknesses. Go a step further and develop strategies to overcome your weaknesses, if you want to ensure you’re prepared for the questions your investor will ask.

Is your business relatively automated?

It’s already been mentioned, but this question is important enough to mention again — how automated is your business, and how much work is your investor going to have to put in to sustain the business that you’ve built once they take it over?

Investors aren’t looking to create a new job for themselves, especially if that job is going to cost them high 6-figures or into the 7-figure range.

If there are certain parts of the business that you have to be actively involved in, you’re going to want to look into outsourcing those parts of the business. Likewise, if there’s something you’re doing that can be handled by an automated service, it’s worth investing in that service.

Your investors will appreciate a relatively hands-off business.

Do you have systems and processes in place?

This is similar to automating parts of the business that you’re able to automate. Rather than completely automating certain aspects, though, it may be worth your time to document the process and put systems in place that make it easy for your investor to outsource.

Remember, the ultimate goal for your investor is going to be to take over a business that they do not have to be actively involved in, or are able outsource the tasks that they don’t want to do to other people.

Part of being able to outsource certain tasks means understanding how to do, and how to train, the people coming in to handle those tasks. That’s where documentation and processes make their life easy, and make it easy to outsource what they need to.

Once you have unlocked the answers to each of those questions, you can begin placing a value on your business.

To get a general idea, you’re going to want to look at how much other businesses have sold for, and compare your own model to their model, finding strengths and weaknesses.

For the most part, an eCommerce store that doesn’t have significant issues with their model is going to sell for around 2.51 times the yearly net profits.

This means that if your eCommerce store is generating $89,000 in profits per year, you could apply the 2.51 multiple to the profits to find a final value of $223,390. This is a starting point in the negotiation process between you and your investor.

To help you navigate the negotiation process, there are a few things you’re going to need to do.

● Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork. Your numbers need to be honest and accurate, because these are the numbers your investors will use to validate your asking price.

● Make sure you have systems and processes in place. Ensuring that the business is running efficiently after you leave is a huge selling point that you can use during negotiations.

● Make your products and services different. Setting yourself apart from the competition and ensuring that the business isn’t a commodity that can be easily replaced is critical if you’re asking for a higher valuation.

● Work with a professional broker. If you have never bought or sold a business before, you could easily get worked over during the negotiation process. Brokers help you keep your own interests protected and can get your offer in front of more investors than you can on your own.

● Clean up the business. If there are problems that you’re aware of, take the time to fix those problems and then let enough time pass for those problems to stabilize. If you notice problems, your investors will, too, and will use those issues to lower your asking price.

You can see from what I’ve laid out here that selling a profitable eCommerce business isn’t necessarily a black and white affair. There is a lot of intricacies that goes into finding the real-world value of a business.

However, if you answer the questions given here, and address any areas of concern in your business, getting the maximum asking price from selling your eCommerce store becomes a reality instead of a distant dream.

This Is How You Prepare Your Home For Winter

Some people live for the summer and the warm weather it brings. Others cannot wait until the weather starts to cool in fall. Regardless of how you feel about it, the weather will soon start to get cold. Winter really is coming.

winter

That means you need to do a little work now to prepare your home for the cooler months. Doing so can save you money on heating, but it can also make sure you don’t have expensive and annoying repairs come spring. You should start by looking at the outside of your home.

Preparing The Outside Of Your Home

In any season, leaky roofs or doors are a problem. You pay good money to control the temperature of your home, and these gaps make it more expensive. That’s why neamb.com recommends taking a look at your roof. Any shingles that are loose can easily come off with a big snowfall. Along the same lines, check your doors and windows for drafts. If there are any, use silicone caulk outside to seal them up.

Because the weather will get seriously cold in winter, you also need to prepare your outside faucets. Start by removing garden hoses and storing them for spring. Then check the faucets themselves. Look into the spout for a metal stem. If you see one, your faucets are likely frost-free and don’t need anything. If there is no stem, you should shut off the water completely to the outside or install a sillcock with an integral vacuum breaker.

Closing Down Your Pool

Speaking of water, you have some extra work to do if you own a pool. Whether it’s above ground or not, you will need to winterize the pool so you can protect it. A treated pool is much less likely to give you problems next summer when you just want to get in the water.

In The Swim has an excellent page of winterizing kits for your pool, including:
● Winter “pills” that have a mix of enzymes and clarifiers to keep the water clear through winter.
● Covers for the whole pool and pumps to remove excess water from the top of the cover as the snow melts.
● Solar blankets that also act as covers.
● Patch kits for covers that develop small holes due to the weather.

What To Do Inside Your Home

Now that you’ve taken care of the outside and the pool, you need to look inside your home. Popular Mechanics has a great list of interior winterizing tips, such as:
● Changing your furnace filters so your heated air is clean.
● Turn any ceiling fans to reverse. (This pushes rising hot air back down to your level.)
● Consider installing storm doors and storm windows, as these can increase your energy efficiency for more comfort and lower costs.
● Hire a certified HVAC maintenance crew to make sure your furnace is working correctly.

If you have two homes and are leaving your summer residence, you should read this checklist from Travelers about preparing your home. Not only should you make sure your home is free of drafts and has a maintained furnace, you also need to drain your water pipes so they don’t freeze while you’re away.

Winterize Now To Save Time & Energy

The thing about fall and winter is that they can be here before you realize it. That’s why it’s so important to start preparing your house for cooler weather while it’s still warm. Check the outside of your house for problems with your roof, windows, and water system. Winterize your pool if you have one, then do some maintenance on the inside. This can go a long way to making sure you’re warm this winter.