26/03/2014

By Amy Cartwright, AXA Business Insurance

You can probably think of thousand things you’d like to do for your business. Wouldn’t it be great to get some publicity in the local press? How about getting more hits on the website? Could you tap into some profitable markets abroad, say in China, France or Russia?

A good idea shouldn’t get left behind in the everyday rush. Here are some constructive things you can do next time you have a spare ten minutes.

1. Sketch out one new web-page
Having a website is one thing; getting visitors to it is another. These days, Google gives top rankings to those with original, locally targeted content. To really stand out, you’ll need to give a bit extra.

If you’re a builder in Norfolk, for example, what is really big news for your customers? Coastal flooding? Traditional building methods? Subsidence? Offering a page of useful tips and advice on one of these themes would help Google identify you as the top result for ‘builder’ in ‘Norfolk’, for example.

Once you have the page, you’ve got something to talk about on social media, in the local newspapers or through emails to customers (say, during a period of heavy rain).

2. Map your sticking points
This is all about pinpointing exactly when customers decide to come to your business or walk away. Quite literally, you need to draw a map of their journey from the moment they think of you to the point of purchase. You can make it a thing of beauty on computer or just use post-it notes stuck to a board.

When dealing with customers it’s always good to ask how they found you. How much time did they spend researching their purchase? Was it an impulse buy — they saw your shop and called by? Did they spend time trawling Google for a service? Or have they gone through multiple quotes?

Then, map every single experience they have with your business — visiting your website, telephone conversations, sitting in a waiting room, parking up outside, receiving a quote, making payments…You’ll identify ‘moments of truth’, where a customer feels a negative or positive emotion. Our consumer survey showed that even small things like a smile, misspelt names and a good cup of coffee make more of a difference than you’d think!

3. Read up on one alternative finance source
A recent report estimated that UK businesses will get around £1.6 billion of funding from alternative sources this year. If you can see a way to expand, but can’t get the finance — it could be worth posting a proposal to investors on a crowdfunding website or other digital platform.

You may also be missing out on finance from government programmes, business funds and trusts. A study we carried out last year revealed that many business owners just aren’t aware of these schemes. You can find a list of good funding websites in a recent blog on AXA’s Business Guardian Angel.

4. Talk to someone in an overseas market
If you’ve got a creative service or product that could easily export — think about getting yourself a niche market abroad. A location like Russia or China may sound daunting, but talk to the EU/British chambers of commerce, business associations, academic institutes dealing with your subject and expat groups on the ground. Quite often, they’ll have success stories like yours to give you initial insight and they are a good place to make contacts and find local partners for day-to-day support.

The opportunities are certainly out there. Julie Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, started out making satchels from home. She’s now making an estimated £5 million from overseas sales (out of £12 million overall). From clothing design in Japan to marketing in Russia — it’s worth finding out how it’s done.

AXA Business Insurance specialises in protecting and supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes. We understand that surviving and thriving through the years takes a lot. That’s why we’re committed to providing tailored policies, as well as free information and expert guidance on Business Guardian Angel.

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