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10 ways to boost your business this year

With the holidays behind us and the new year in full swing, it’s time to look at the impact you can make on your business in 2016.

This year’s playing field will be as diverse as ever: technology continues to grow at an almost unfathomable rate, the internet continues to connect the globe in new and exciting ways, and consumers continue to evolve in their tastes and habits.

Is your business prepared to capitalize on what 2016 has to offer? Are you at the center of where growth will occur? Stay on target with these 10 ways to boost business in the new year.

1. Make Your Employees Feel Valued

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Your business exists to make money, and if you’re making money, you’re doing well, right? Well, not if your eyes are fixed so intently on your profit margins that you start seeing your employees as expendable robots.

Yes, you want to make money, but you also want to build a company that has a solid foundation and the longevity to grow in the years to come.

The best way to ensure business longevity is to invest in your employees – but this doesn’t have to mean financial investing.

Cynical employees who glumly share memes that say “Keeping your job is the new raise” will be more motivated than you think when you start highlighting their good qualities and helping them to overcome their negative ones in a one-on-one setting. Praise your employees for the successes they have achieved, and inspire them to achieve even more.

Giving your employees perks is also well worth the investment. As Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner writes, “Your company may not be at a point that allows you to offer a competitive full benefits package. But you’d be surprised how far a few small (and inexpensive) benefits will go with your staff.” She suggests offering a monthly massage to employees, but the benefits you could use to bolster employee morale are endless.

Remember, a people-first approach to leadership is one that stands out to employees in an increasingly automated world.

2. Always Focus on Your Customers

Continuing your people-first approach, remember that your business revolves around the customer. The customer may always be right, but is the customer always heard? Go above and beyond to attend to your customers’ needs, and the results will be evident.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talks about this constantly – it is his driving philosophy. He says, “We’re not competitor-obsessed, we’re customer-obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.”

Not only will this type of attitude promote a healthy relationship with your customers, it will also help you avoid negative publicity.

With consumers only a few clicks away from communicating with the world at large, this is more important than ever. As Bezos says: “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.”

3. Be Current on the Psychology of Business

Selling a product continues to be a foray into the psychology of the mind, where small aspects of your business can have big effects.

For example, Maker Mogul creator Mark Zhang describes how you can greatly increase your sales by following a few simple tactics. One of these is anchoring your product. In his article “ 7 Psychological Pricing Hacks to Double Sales,” Zhang says, “If your objective is to sell a $50 widget, have a cheaper version and a super-premium version alongside.”

This is also known as the Myth of Fair Value, where consumers will, on average, pick the middle option, assuming that they’re getting the best value for their money.

Another psychological trick to take advantage of is making your prices appear smaller by taking out dollar signs, commas, and decimals.

A study on this topic revealed that consumers perceive values to be lower when their visual representations are smaller. For example, a consumer would more likely buy a flat screen television that costs $1,200 if the price tag read “1200” instead of “$1,200.”

The techniques are out there; make sure you’re using as many of them as you can.

4. Properly Manage Social Media

The sum of social media is what you put into it. Your activity in that regard can either have the effect of bringing droves of consumers to your website’s metaphorical doorstep, or it can be more mindless noise that consumers overlook.

The majority of consumers likely use one form of social media or another, so you need to be where they are. But what kinds of activity generate the most traffic for your website?

Digital marketing strategist Stuart J. Davidson looked at the Google Analytics data for his own website and came to a few conclusions regarding social media activity:

  • Comments make a big impact. If you run a blog, one of the most important things you can do is reply to the comments people make. This adds the personal touch that’s critical to turning leads into sales and retaining customers.

  • Pinterest offers a great return on investment. Davidson noted that although he put very little time and effort into leveraging Pinterest marketing, he saw results from his time spent on the site.

5. Learn from the Best

Do you want to grow your business into something substantial? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel at every turn. Try reading up on current CEOs and learn what they do to stay successful.

The leaders of today’s most profitable businesses all have several things in common, such as consistency and drive. Find out what specifically works for them and try putting it into practice yourself.

For instance, many greats in the entrepreneurial world set time aside for informative reading. Invest time in doing the same. Some CEOs even have unique habits that enable them to focus on the task at hand. If you want a great place to get started, check out these inspiring insights from today’s top leaders.

6. Update Your Search Engine Optimization

Some businesses live or die based on the website traffic the search engines bring them. If you aren’t very savvy in the world of SEO, familiarize yourself with its importance.

Oftentimes, you’ll have to do some digging to see which keywords bring the best results, but the time spent could not be more important.

Make sure your keywords pertain to your business but are also relevant to the demographic you’re trying to reach. In addition, if your business is brick-and-mortar and not just online, your SEO must draw in customers who might physically go to your business.

Above all, know the power of search engines. According to DIY Marketer Ivana Taylor, Google will continue to update its algorithm through 2016, so use Google Analytics and other tools to stay relevant and to ensure you’re following all of the industry’s best practices.

7. Delegate

Nothing can make you more effective than having others do tasks that are not vital to the leadership of your business. This will give you time to focus on the important issues.

The argument for doing everything yourself is that it saves money; however, if you actually assign a dollar value to your time, you’ll see that you’re losing money by not paying an assistant to take care of the everyday minutiae.

Performance coach Siimon Reynolds said it best when he stated, “To achieve great things you must give yourself the time to think of great things. And it’s very hard to do that if you’re handling a mountain of urgent and low level tasks yourself.”

8. Add a Personal Touch to Sales

It might seem backwards, but a great way to boost online sales is to start selling in person, too. Physically interacting with people has a greater impact than shooting them an email.

Similarly, selling products face-to-face has a greater impact than liking a status on Facebook. Follow one cardinal rule however, as expressed in a how-to guide by online selling gurus Chloe + Isabel: Always follow up. Remember, “a salesperson is only as good as their word.”

9. Refine Your Unique Angle

In today’s business world, making a sale often has more to do with the unique angle you have on the market than it does with having a valuable product. Finding your Unique Value Proposition will allow you to capitalize on the niche in which your brand lives.

“Unique” will be a key word for 2016. This is why companies like Etsy have been so successful: Instead of competing against major corporations, people have found that adding a unique, personal touch to their sales can make all the difference.

Want to learn more? Check out Olga Mizrahi’s book Sell Local, Think Global.

10. Find What Makes You Efficient

Overall, remember that you are the captain of your business ship. You owe it to yourself and to your business to be the best and most efficient you can be.

Keep your body and mind healthy by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and taking time to read. Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you. If people clash with your leadership style, evaluate the situation: change you or change them.

In short, do everything you can to make sure that you can lead effectively.

What other business-boosting strategies are you trying this year? Let us know in the comments below:

Images: Pixabay,Flickr, Flickr

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