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Better Inventory Management Leads to Higher Profits

Featured image by DifferR

Inventory management plays a key role in setting a business up for success. In fact, better inventory management helps to ensure that you don’t run out of stock at an inopportune moment. Ultimately, this makes it easier for you to keep your customers happy and coming back for more.

But does your inventory management strategy need a boost? Here is a guide to making important improvements.

Invest in the Right Software Solution for Better Inventory Management

Why try to cope with manually doing real-time inventory management when you can invest in better technology? The latest inventory management software will help you streamline the process and remove the burden from your shoulders. It is true that there are many different options in terms of inventory management. However, it is also true that not all software solutions have been created equal.

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When considering the different alternatives, be sure to look deeper than basic inventory management. Pay special attention, for instance, to software that can tick the boxes for the effective management of other aspects of your business, too.

For example, field service management software for service companies usually comes equipped with inventory management features built right in. The only difference is that this software offers other features to boost your operations.

You can choose software that gives you billing administration and customer relationship management, for instance. Some also give you work order management and assistance with dispatch and scheduling. The best of them provide reporting and analytics as well. In short, by choosing better inventory management software, you will get a lot more bang for your buck!

Conduct Forecasts for Better Inventory Management

If your business sells a wide variety of items, the simplest way to approach managing your inventory is to categorize these items. Then create a stand-alone strategy for each.

Part of this strategy should include conducting informed inventory forecasts. In order to do this, you will need to access your records and analyses regarding sales. Then use this data to predict which stock is likely to experience a high demand in the near future. Better inventory management forecasts will let you know when to spend and when to hold back.

As you well know, ordering excess stock can pose extensive cash flow problems, both in the short and the long term. On the other hand, not having enough of a particular item on hand can lead to unhappy customers. This can have a significant effect on your company’s reputation.

Regularly Review and Revise Inventory Management Policies

The demand for goods is forever changing. Therefore, your inventory policies and strategies must do the same. So review and, if necessary, revise these policies and strategies every month, when you access your records and analyze market trends.

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Additionally, use your inventory records to better manage other aspects of your business. For example, take a good look at your marketing efforts and consider how you can better manage inventory to boost profits.

You can also use your inventory records to keep existing inventory at a manageable level. For instance, if you notice that you have too much stock of a certain item, consider advertising a promotion or a discount. This will encourage more conversions and clear out the excess.

Wrapping Up

Put into practice all the advice we offer here about inventory management, and your business is certain to be the better for it. Here’s to optimized operations, more satisfied customers, and an attractive bottom line.

For more ideas to help you run your business more efficiently, be sure to browse our blog often.

The post Better Inventory Management Leads to Higher Profits appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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10 Worst Practices for B2B Influencer Marketing – Don’t be a Clown

Worst Practices B2B Influencer Marketing

Worst Practices B2B Influencer Marketing

When it comes to sharing B2B marketing advice, I prefer not to clown around too much and do my best to line up on the positive and optimistic side with trends, insights and how to’s focused on looking forward towards best practices and getting better results.

Marketers expect serious results but unfortunatley, many B2B marketers insist on clowning around with half-hearted or incomplete influencer marketing efforts. Instead, they choose to ignore experience, best practices and even common sense when it comes to B2B influencer marketing.

I know this from stories told by brand marketers that have worked with other agencies and from being on the receiving end of clueless pitches, minimum viable engagement efforts and willfully ignorant attempts to get me to promote something I really have no business caring about. I’ve heard much of the same from other people who are often engaged as influencers as well.

What better day than today for an appeal to B2B marketers to stop clowning around with influencer marketing efforts, especially now when marketing has no room to be wasteful or unsuccessful. Below is a list of some of the worst offenders. If your B2B company is doing these things, whatever efficiency or shortcut you’re hoping for is a joke on you in terms of program success and building real relationships with the credible experts your customers listen to.

1. Lead Gen Disguised as Brand Awareness – Marketers initiating an influencer program with stated goals of increasing brand awareness inevitably always shift their thinking midway through and start talking about lead generation and sales expectations if not from the start. Of course building brand awareness and lead generation are two different strategies with different types of metrics. Expecting both from the same campaign is like expecting a flying car to also be a submarine. It’s possible, but not very practical.

2. Choosing Influencers Based on What? – Companies hire influencer marketing staff, consultants or agency specialists to help with influencer identification and qualification more than just about any other aspect of an influencer marketing program. And yet, some marketers prefer to choose influencers based on who they think would be influential or based on the opinions of a few executives vs. based on data.

Influencer Programs have a strategy for how to achieve a particular goal with the identified audience using a specific mix of content and tactics. Influencers play a role like ingredients in a recipe and data informed selection incorporates a minimum of topical relevance, audience resonance, network size, publishing type, style and cadence as well as brand alignment into consideration. When you start deciding on ingredients for recipe you haven’t made before based on what you like vs. what tastes good for your guests, it’s possible the dish will be tasty, but probably not.

3.  Overpromise and Underdeliver – Marketers are busy and often overzealous when pressed for time and resources to recruit influencers for a project. Value exchange scenarios emerge where the influencer is asked to X and the brand will do Y in exchange. Then surprises start to happen, like being asked to do this one extra thing. Or two. Or three.

When a big exposure opportunity implied in the recruiting effort falls through (it was actually speculative), gets switched for another thing the influencers don’t want or requires the influencers to sell their soul to the brand with some kind of endorsement to participate – all contribute to the experience the brand is creating for the influencer. When expectations are not met either by the brand or the influencer, nobody wins. Such disconnects are avoidable with effective influencer program management.

4. Transactional Engagement – Efficiency is an expectation now more than ever in marketing departments and at the same time, influencer engagement is a relationship focused practice. When marketers treat influencer interactions like sales transactions or as impersonal exchanges, it may create conveniences for the marketer, but it’s nothing special or worth repeating for the influencer.

The classic transactional engagement example is when the marketer invites the influencer to contribute to a project of relevance and then sends a link to a form with 10 more questions than implied in the invite. Once the form is complete, there is no thank you, no acknowledgement and no follow up until the content is published and the marketer sends an email with the exact same 5 social share message suggestions that were sent to the other 49 people who were asked to fill out the form. Yuk.

5. Nowhere to Publish – Less an issue with small or medium sized companies, publishing influencer content on the large b2B brand websites or blogs should already be coordinated and approved before the influencers are recruited and informed where they will see exposure. Nobody wins when a top lineup of experts share their expertise and the brand doesn’t have somewhere for that content to live.

Also, simply publishing episodic content like a podcast to aggregators and not creating a web page index for the podcast or episodes is a huge missed opportunity. Web pages are hooks in the water for search engines, social shares, industry blogs and media websites. Plus, those web pages also create exposure for the contributing influencers, which is probably why they said yes to the invitation.

6. Fear of Commitment – Relationships take time, effort and investment of resources and can pay incredible dividends over a long period of time. It’s definitely a best practice for B2B brands to conduct a pilot influencer project to work out processes and capture initial data for insight into building a program. But make no mistake, it is an ongoing effort towards influencer engagement that builds the kinds of relationships that drive high ROI advocacy from the people your customers trust the most.

Fear of committing to some kind of ongoing effort to nurture influencers as part of a strategy to drive brand conversations, grow brand influence, reach new customers and inspire more business has a cost that shows no ROI.

7. Management by Spreadsheet – Like any marketing program, there are many elements to manage in an influencer program from the marketing plan, campaign, assets and measurement to the management, engagement and measurement of influencers. Doing all of that by spreadsheet can work for a pilot but for any B2B company to scale it’s influencer marketing efforts, investment in technology like an influencer marketing platform will be worthwhile.

An influencer marketing platform should enable marketers to find, manage and measure influencer relationships (at a minimum).

8. Promotion Black Hole – Imagine an exciting new project where everything comes together: the influencers, the brand executives and SMEs and the content is impressive. Then the content publishes and… nothing.  Sometimes brands overestimate the value of publishing on their own properties including social channels.

Promotion of influencer content is a bit part of why influencers agree to contribute to a brand’s influencer marketing program. Of course the influencer will promote to their own channels and the brand will benefit from that. But if the content the influencer contributed to is not promoted on brand channels, it deflates the influencers motivation and that’s a lost opportunity for the brand.

9. One Night Stands – Engaging and activating influencers comes in many forms and some marketers miss the boat entirely on the relationship aspect of co-creating with influencers in search of quickie content capture and social shares. That quickie for a listicle might be satisfying for the marketer as efficient content creation, but it does very little to create a real relationship with trusted experts making product and service recommendations to their loyal audiences.

Engaging influencers only when you need them shows them you only care about yourself. That’s not how successful relationships are built.

It’s perfectly fine to engage in small or individual projects with influencers. Just don’t make that the only thing. Ongoing, or “always on” influencer engagement is practical, manageable and it creates a mutual will scenario for the brand, its customers and the influencers.

10. Goals to Measurement FUBAR – Influencer Marketing is still relatively new to B2B and many marketers add-on influencer contributions to existing content marketing programs than implement dedicated influencer programs on their own. Ambiguity about goals for the influencer part of a content marketing program leads to lack of defined metrics and performance measurement.

It could happen that a B2B brand adds a few high profile influencers to a demand gen project that achieves millions of social impressions. But it turns out, very few people shared their email for the download. If the project had goals of name capture, a specific type of influencer that more middle-funnel appropriate should be engaged and provided with UTM encoded URLs for influencer level tracking.

When goals to measurement are not clear with influencers that are part of a content project or a dedicated influencer marketing program, measuring and reporting success is basically guesswork.

For even more laughs about the ways B2B marketers are sidetracking the results of their influencer marketing efforts, check out this timeless list of 50 ways to fail at influencer engagement.

There’s nothing funny about failing but it’s a lot of fun to hit and exceed program goals. Be sure to check out these examples of successful influencer marketing for B2B brands, big and small and here are 25 campaign ideas.

 

 

 

 

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The Cost of Working Remotely During Lockdown

Featured Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

For the past several weeks, due to Covid-19, much of the country’s workforce has been working remotely from home. Therefore, many have turned to video calls and instant messaging apps.

Of course, workers need to stay in touch with their colleagues, teams, managers, and employers. Moreover, platforms such as Zoom and Skype have enabled them to keep in touch and continue to work.

RELATED ARTICLE: BUSINESS INFORMATION UPDATES DURING COVID-19 BREAKOUT

What Is the Cost to Businesses of Employees Working Remotely?

Working remotely from home will naturally lead to more time spent in video meetings so that employees can discuss their work. Projects must continue, and there are lot of other things that need to get done. But what is the additional cost of this extra time spent in meetings?

The team at CIPHR.com have developed a calculator to answer that exact question. Their tool shows the exact cost, in terms of an employee’s salary, of time spent in meetings per month.

What Does This Look Like for the Typical Office Worker?

The average salary in the UK is around £29,000 per year. According to a study in The Independent, on average we spend around eight hours per week in meetings at work.

Dropping these figures into CIPHR’s meetings calculator shows a figure of a whopping £560 worth of work time spent in meetings each month. (For our US readers, this translates to roughly $606 a month.)

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To help visualize how much time this is over a working month, the calculator says you could have used this time to create 480 servings of fresh pasta from scratch!

remote working

What Is the Cost of Working Remotely for Executives?

What about executives, who tend to spend more time in meetings and also typically take home much larger salaries?

According to Inc.com, executives spent an eye-watering 25 hours per week in meetings. If we estimate a salary of £100,000 per year, that equates to a cost of £5,270 for time spent in meetings, at 100 hours per month. This is the same amount of time you would need to learn beginner Spanish.

Use the CIPHR Calculator to Find out How Much Remote Working Is Costing Your Business

Commenting on the release of the virtual meeting calculator, David Richter, director of marketing at CIPHR, said: “This new calculator puts a light-hearted spin on the sudden increase of virtual meetings and chats that many organizations are adjusting to.”

He continued, “Next time you’re about to send a virtual meeting request, think: Could this be an email instead? Is every person on the invitation list genuinely required (or is there anyone important missing)? Will it really take an hour, or will 15 or 30 minutes suffice?

“And when you’re in a virtual meeting, respect your coworkers’ time and stay on topic. Equally, while chat apps are a great way for colleagues to keep in touch in an informal way, too many notifications can end up being distracting. If you want an answer to a question that’s not urgent, email may be best. And if you need a block of time to focus on an activity, change your notification settings to ‘do not disturb.’”

“Remember,” he added, “virtual meetings and chat apps are just some of the ways to communicate information. For critical announcements, organizations might find it more effective to use functionality available in specialist HR systems like CIPHR.”

How Will You Keep Your Costs Down During Lockdown?

Use the suggestions in this article to help you find ways of keeping the cost of remote working down in your business.

To learn more about how other small-business owners are surviving and even thriving during the Covid-19 pandemic, visit our blog often.

The post The Cost of Working Remotely During Lockdown appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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