Merchant Cash Advance Steps in During Recession to Save Small Businesses

The global credit crisis has seen banks struggling with cash deficit, barely managing to stay afloat. Small businesses have obviously been badly hit with the drastic drop in consumer disposable income. With no money coming in from consumers, and banks not approving loans, small businesses have been shutting down or on the verge of it.

The Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) industry has saved many small businesses from closing down during the economic downturn. MCA providers focus on the future performance of the business rather than its current financial situation. If the business has an acceptable credit history and shows good credit card sales, business owners can get a merchant advance within 2 weeks to support their business.

The survival of small businesses is integral to the economy

Small businesses contribute to the U.S. economy in a big way. According to the 2004 census, there were at least 25 million small businesses in the United States, with 600,000 new businesses adding to the count every year. These businesses account for at least 50% of the employments in the private sector.

Closure of small businesses leads to the loss of wealth and employment in the economy. Lack of funds is forces small businesses to lay off employees or shutdown service. It is vital that small businesses have the necessary funds to survive this lean time and continue to generate revenue and employment.

With this end in mind, the U.S. government in 2008 and 2009 facilitating funding of banks to prop them up and encourage business loans. However, getting loans from banks is still very tough, even with good credit scores. The approval process is stringent and time-consuming. A failing business cannot afford the time lost in waiting for a loan when it needs funds urgently.

MCA providers have an efficient system that allows businesses to get the business advance fairly quickly. The funds can be utilized immediately to keep the business going while it adapts to the new economic environment. MCA providers have played a key role in keeping many businesses on their feet.

MCA industry – a successful player in the new lending market

The new lending market is seeing the rise of the MCA industry. Traditional bank loans are still an option for business financing but need to rethink their loaning strategy to be useful to struggling businesses. The MCA falls more costly than a bank loan, but it places trust in the business’ capability to perform. The MCA provider gets a percentage of the credit card sales and is with the business in good times and slow times. As MCA does not require posting of collateral, the business owner is saved the worry of losing personal assets.

The MCA industry is regulating itself to shakeout disreputable providers looking to rip-off desperate small business owners. Top MCA providers are setting a benchmark for other providers to ensure the MCA industry stays in business.

Small business funding is a lucrative industry. With the change in the lending market, more players can be expected to enter the arena to fulfill this need. Small business owners will have the option to choose from various financing sources. In today’s unpredictable environment, the MCA industry stands out for its convenient, fast and flexible financing options.

Small Business Lead Generation Made Easy Online

With people giving Yellow Pages and directory inquiries a miss and going straight to the internet to search for local businesses, it is essential for small businesses to both have an online presence and a small business lead generation system in place. There are two roads to go down to get more business prospects – SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click).

SEO is more of a long term goal, as it can take months to get high up on the search engines for the keywords people are typing in to find your type of small business. Of course, if you do know some tricks of the trade you can get more exposure faster and your small business marketing will pay off a lot quicker than that. The major search engines do cater for the local small business.

Google offers a free local listing, which all small businesses should take advantage of. Google ‘Google Local Business Center’ and you will find where to sign up. You will need a free Google account to set up this listing, and then you can enter in your business details and your business classification. Google will then mail you a postcard with a confirmation pin number on, which you will need to enter to activate the local listing. Once you are live, people performing searches in your local area for your type of business are likely to see your business listing and a map at the top of the Google search page. It’s a great start to online lead generation, as people find your business quickly and easily.

Yahoo offers a similar service. Do a search for ‘Yahoo Local Listing’ and take a look at what they have to offer. They do have a free basic listing, but the monthly paid “enhanced listing” option is worth considering, as you can enter in a detailed business description, more photos and offer online coupons to encourage your visitors to pick you over your competitors. These online coupons are great for both B2B and B2C lead generation.

Having these listings in place give you a good head start in getting your website found when people search online for your business type. They are just a small fraction of the many ways that SEO can get your website noticed by your business prospects. Other ways include finding sites with high PR (page ranking) and getting backlinks from them, as well as entering your business details on online directories. Your customers need to be able to find you for small business lead generation to be successful.

Now, if you are looking for a quick and worthwhile use of your business resources to generate leads, then the way forward is to use PPC. Unlike using SEO, you can often see results and traffic on your first day using this method of B2C and B2B lead generation. Google AdWords is the most popular and most effective PPC program used.

As small business marketing using PPC is fairly new and local keywords still relatively cheap, it is an ideal method for small business lead generation. You sign up for an AdWords account, enter the local keywords that you would like to bid on, and depending on the competition and how much you bid, you are on the first page of Google straight away and people can find you. You only get charged when people click on your ad, and you can track and test what keywords are most effective.

In conclusion, you can see that SEO is important in the long term for getting your site ranked high in the organic listings, but in the meantime, while you are achieving those high rankings you should use PPC for your small business lead generation.

Direct Response and Web Sites-Small Business Lead Generation

One of the most important elements to small business success is lead generation because without leads you can’t increase sales. So where do you concentrate your lead generation efforts?

Get Qualified Leads One at a Time with Direct Response

I’m going to make a bold statement: Direct response is the most effective and affordable ways to generate leads on a one-on-one basis. Let me qualify that statement. Direct response is the most effective and affordable way to reach clients one-to-one if you:

  • know your target market
  • attach benefits to your features
  • understand your competition
  • identify your competitive advantage
  • can write your direct response package in a clear and convincing way

Understanding all that means you can have an effective direct response campaign. No doubt, knowing a few tips about direct response copywriting will help by boosting your response rate. For instance, your heading makes or breaks your campaign. It’s the biggest predictor on whether your prospect ill read it or toss it in the garbage.

Forget about where you’re located or how many year’s you’ve been in business, or describing every detail about your product. Yes, your potential consumer clients want to know a little about the features, but for every feature your product or service has, they want to know far more about the benefit. They consistently and continuously ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

A specific call to action, and creating a sense of urgency helps too. It seems most of us are basic procrastinators. If you don’t tell us what to do, and you don’t make us believe we need to do it today (with specials, limited-time or quantity discounts, etc.) we probably won’t do anything at all.

And by the way, a P.S. increases response rates too. It’s the second most-read line in your direct response copy. It should restate your main benefits, call to action and special offer.

Generate Masses of Leads with a Small Business Web Site

But direct response isn’t the only effective way to reach clients affordably. It may be the best way to reach potential clients on a one-on-one basis, but did you know a small business web site is one of the best ways to reach masses of potential clients?

Affordable? That depends. Some small business owners I know personally have paid lots of $$ for their web site. It may be a mistake to pay big bucks for a small business web site when a simple 5 page static site will do. After all, it’s not the design that produces results but rather the copywriting.

Copy for your web site follows the same basic rules as direct response copywriting, but with a few important differences:

  • web site copy is shorter because internet readers are generally impatient
  • include lots of free information because readers are searching for information
  • avoid the hard sell–it doesn’t work online
  • write with your readers in mind, but take search engines into account as well
  • include a way to capture email addresses as lead generation

Effective? That depends too. A web site is only effective if it can be found. And to make sure it’s found you need to know a little about search engine marketing (SEM). A good discussion about SEM is beyond the scope of this short article. But, here’s a few tips:

  • write web site copy around keywords, including headings and titles
  • promote your web site online by publishing articles, joining forums, and listing in business directories
  • try Google AdWords
  • promote your web site offline
  • content, content and even more content
  • update content often

Increase Their Interest Level with Direct Response Pointing to Your Web Site

So, direct response generates leads one-to-one, and a web site reaches the masses. What if you combine them?

Direct response and web sites work very well together to generate leads and close sales. You could create your direct response with a call to action to visit your web site rather than asking directly for a purchase. Your web site includes copy that is different from, but related to your direct response package.

Your web site call to action could be any of a number of things. You could use it simply to generate more leads through capturing email addresses. Or you could be the “information guru” on some subject your direct mail recipients would be interested in. Or your web site call to action could be directly asking for sales.

The point is that the purpose of both is to generate leads and to have some way to convert those leads to sales. There are many different ways to close sales. Follow up brochures can be very effective for instance. But possibly using both direct response and your web site solely to generate leads is less effective than using one to supplement the other as a sales tool.

Small Business Lead Generation – Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Small business lead generation using pay-per-click ads can be very challenging. In fact, paying for leads can either make you really rich or drive you out of business. Google makes a ton of money every year from pay-per-click ads. Most of the money that they make from these ads did not generate a single bit of additional revenue to the companies or entrepreneurs who purchased them. However, there are a few people out in the business world who pay a little bit of money to Google and generate millions of dollars in return. They don’t generate this type of income by accident. These entrepreneurs just have a better strategy than the ones who end up losing money on pay-per-click ads.

How to Lose Money in Pay-Per-Click Ads

The Uninformed Entrepreneur says, “I am not making money from my website because no one is coming to my website, so I will invest in pay-per-click ads and that will make me money.” No, that will cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars every week with very little, if any, return on your investment. Effective advertising leverages or magnifies the return that you are already getting from your current sales channels. If your website is not generating leads or business for you before you invest in advertising, then you will be magnifying a zero return. 300% of zero is still zero.

Most people use pay-per-click ads as the starting point, and when they do, they will almost always lose money. They are betting their business capital on an untested experiment. It would be like buying a thoroughbred and running down to the racetrack and betting a bunch of money on your horse’s first race. Yes, you would know your horse, but your horse is untested against other horses. However, if your horse wins his first three races, you might want to invest a little in his fourth one.

Your website is the same way. Develop your website to where you are generating leads and sales from those leads. Then, one you have a track record of success, invest in pay-per-click ads. Then you are betting on a sure thing.

How to Generate Lots of Revenue from Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The Informed Entrepreneur says, “I have finally got my business generating new leads from the internet, and now I want to leverage the success that I am currently getting.” Now you can make an informed budget for your pay-per-click advertising.

Here is a highly simplified example. If you are generating 10 leads per week from your website, and you are averaging closing one of those leads for $100 in revenue and $25 in profit, then you could only afford to pay $2.50 per lead to break even. Remember that just because someone clicks your pay-per-click link, does not mean that they will contact you and become a lead. If you have a fantastic website, you might be able to turn one out of every ten clicks into leads, so you could pay no more than $.25 per click to just break even. So pay-per-click won’t yet work for you yet. You would need to increase the revenue per customer, or the profit margin, or the closing ratio (or all three) to make pay-per-click more cost effective for you.

If you invest in an email follow up system and generate the same 10 leads per week, this time you might turn three of those leads into customers. Since you are now able to build a longer term relationship with your leads, you might be able to bundle a few of your products together and generate a higher revenue per sale and increase your average sale to $300. By doing all of this, your cost per lead goes down dramatically. Now for every sale you are generating $100 in profit. With three sales out of ten leads, you generate a total of $300 in profit. You can now afford to pay $30 per lead, so with the same ten clicks turning into one lead, you could afford to pay up to $3 for each click. If you can get quality clicks for just $1 each, you will triple your pay-per-click investment.

So forget the cold calls and spam, use your website to get more leads to call you, and then use pay-per-click to leverage your success, and you will generate great success through small business lead generation.

Writing Pay-Per-Click Ads that Lead to Sales

Once you have a great site and follow up system set up, now you can in some ads. Remember that the goal is NOT to get people to click your ad. The goal is to get people who will buy something from you to click your ad. For instance, if I put “One out of every 100 who click this link will get $1000,” I’d get a LOT of clicks. However, none of them would buy anything from me, so I’d just lose a lot of money. Or, if I am a local dentist in Frisco, Texas, and I place an ad that says, “Free Teeth Whitening Tips,” I’ll also get a lot of clicks, but very few sales. Most of the people who click will just want the free tips, and very few of them will be in my local neighborhood. A better ad would say something like, “Frisco, TX Dentist – Free teeth cleaning with your first whitening treatment.” If you don’t want to go to a dentist in Frisco, TX, you are less likely to click that link. People who do click the link are probably pretty good prospects for you.

You will always have numb-skulls who click your links even though they don’t need or want anything that you are promoting, but you’ll have fewer people click your paid-for links who are looking for something different than what you are offering.

So if you want to generate small business leads using pay-per-click, make your website and follow up system solid first, then use effective ads to target the specific market who will buy your services.