Trending February 2024 # Google My Business Listing Suspended? Here’s How To Recover # Suggested March 2024 # Top 8 Popular

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For most small businesses, Google My Business (GMB) is their marketing lifeline.

Because it’s free, many local businesses rely solely on their Google My Business profile to generate traffic and calls, as well as to bring customers to their storefronts.

Marketers know it’s risky to put all of your marketing eggs in one basket.

But for a local business that has a limited budget – or no marketing budget at all – a free GMB listing is often all they have to promote their business online.

That means if the business has any problems with their Google My Business profile, it can have a significant negative impact on their business and cause immediate panic:

According to BrightLocal’s Google My Business Insight Study, the average business is found in 157 direct searches each month and 852 discovery searches.

This totals an average of 1,009 searches per month.

For most small businesses, that’s a lot of potential customers.

Losing that much online exposure can be disastrous – especially if they aren’t doing any other online marketing efforts.

When a business’ Google My Business profile gets suspended, it can literally make a company’s sales come to a screeching halt.

And a suspended GMB listing will cause the business owner a lot of stress and worry – especially when most aren’t sure why they were suspended in the first place.

What Is A Google My Business Suspension?

A Google My Business suspension is when your GMB listing is no longer visible on Google and Google Maps or you have lost control of your listing (your business listing is essentially “unverified” and you can’t manage it.)

You will know that your listing has been suspended when you see this notification in your GMB dashboard:

When your listing gets suspended, Google doesn’t tell you the exact reason why it was suspended.

GMB listings can get suspended for a variety of reasons – many of the reasons have to do with spammy tactics or if the GMB listing owner breaks Google My Business Guidelines.

Google can also give you a Manual Suspension if they review your listing and find an issue with it.

This review often comes after someone reports your listing through GMB’s Redressal Form.

It’s also possible for a user to report a listing on Google Maps or search through the Suggest an Edit feature.

If that person is “trusted” enough by Google, it is possible that their suggestion to remove the business listing or make negative edits could take effect almost immediately.

Suspensions can also happen after you make changes to your listing.

For instance, one of my client’s listings was immediately suspended after I changed his landscaping business from a storefront with a physical address to a service area business by deleting the address.

Immediately after I deleted the address from the listing, his GMB profile was suspended.

There are two types of suspensions:

A hard suspension.

A soft suspension.

What Is a Hard Suspension?

A hard suspension is when you do a search for your company’s name and city and your Knowledge Panel doesn’t show up online – which is a very bad thing because potential customers won’t be able to find your GMB listing on Google Maps or search results.

Hard suspensions usually happen when Google determines that your business doesn’t qualify for a GMB listing or if you’re using spammy tactics.

What Is a Soft Suspension?

A soft suspension is when your business’ Knowledge Panel still shows up online and you can access it in your GMB dashboard, but it looks as if it hasn’t been verified and you can’t manage or update your listing.

If you have a soft suspension, your GMB profile can be subjected to user suggested edits more easily – making it more vulnerable to incorrect changes and wrong information being displayed.

Also, some industries are more likely to get suspensions than others.

These categories are known to have more spam and fake listings, which makes them more prone to suspensions.

Google and SEO professionals have been trying to crack down on spammy and fake GMB listings, so if you’re in one of these industries, it’s very possible that someone will report your profile if you are violating any Google My Business rules.

These spammy categories are typically Service Area Business (SABs) and include:

Locksmiths.

Lawyers.

Plumbers.

Pest control services.

HVAC.

Etc.

The Dreaded Google My Business Suspended Notification

If your listing hasn’t been suspended yet, you’re lucky.

Most listings at some point or another will face a suspension. (So it’s best to be prepared!)

Why would you get suspended?

If your GMB listing gets suspended, it’s likely that you have done something that looks suspicious, spammy or you broke Google My Business Terms of Service.

Google suspends listings for a variety of reasons – especially if you are violating Google My Business Guidelines.

How do you know if your GMB profile has been suspended?

Most business owners first notice a decrease in calls or visitors to their business.

They will then do a quick search online and may not find their listing at all or they will log in to their Google My Business dashboard and see a notification that alerts them that their listing has been Suspended:

That’s when you have to try and figure out exactly why your listing was suspended and begin the process of fixing the situation.

Determine Why Your Google My Business Listing Was Suspended

One of the main frustrations with suspensions is that Google doesn’t tell you why your listing got suspended – so it often becomes a guessing game.

For instance, if you are in a high-spam industry like lawyers, locksmiths, or plumbers, you might get your listing suspended just because of the industry you’re in.

If you sat down at your computer and made several updates to your Google My Business listing, that also can sometimes cause Google to be suspicious and trigger a suspension.

Here are some other main reasons why Google My Business listings get suspended:

Keyword stuffing your business name.

Using a P.O. Box or UPS store address.

You set up your listing at a virtual office or co-working space address.

You have a service-area business and are displaying a physical address.

You have an online-only business.

You are in a high-risk business category, like lawyers, plumbers, HVAC, locksmiths, rehab centers, etc.

If another business shares your same address.

You have made a bunch of changes/edits to your GMB profile at one sitting.

The URL you add to your GMB profile forwards/redirects to another website or links to a social media page.

If you change your listing from a Storefront to a Service Area Business (SAB).

Your address or hours don’t match what is listed on your website or other online business directories/citations.

You list your business hours as 24/7.

A manager on your listing got their Account suspended – so your listing got suspended because they got suspended.

You created multiple listings for the same business at the same address (duplicate listings).

If you’ve done any of these things, you will need to fix the issues before you try and get your Google My Business profile reinstated.

Fix Your GMB Profile Problems Before You Fill Out The Reinstatement Form

Seeing that suspension notice will probably cause you to panic – and you may be tempted to fill out the reinstatement form right away.

But, wait!

Before you can apply for reinstatement, you have to fix what’s wrong with your listing.

Many people who get their listing suspended think they should just create a new listing to avoid fixing the suspended profile.

Do not create a new listing!

Doing that will just complicate things.

When it comes to fixing what caused the suspension, you should first carefully read the Google My Business Guidelines to make sure you didn’t violate any of those rules.

You also need to look at the “Info” section in your Google My Business Profile and carefully look at each and every field to see what may be in violation.

For instance, if you have keyword-stuffed your business name, you need to fix your company’s name to get your listing reinstated.

In the example above, the real estate agent added extra, spammy words to the name of her business.

Before she submits her reinstatement form, she needs to delete the words “- Florida: The Smart Choice For Real Estate!” from her business name.

If you think you were suspended because you have your hours listed as 24/7, then you should adjust your hours to be something like 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. before you submit the reinstatement request.

(Note: The hours you list on your GMB profile should be the hours that you have staff/employees at your business location to meet with customers. Google wants to know when you have employees at your business to physically help customers.)

Do you have a duplicate listing problem or have you set up more than one business at the same address?

You would need to fix the duplicate issue before you try to get your listing reinstated.

Once you think you’ve figured out the issues and have fixed your profile, it’s time to get a second opinion.

Before you fill out the reinstatement form, it is a good idea to go to the Google My Business Help Forum and post the details of your suspension there and ask for a second opinion of what may be the cause of your suspension and how you fixed it.

To help the volunteer moderators on the forum, please provide details on exactly what the situation is, why you think you may have been suspended and provide the following information:

The Google Local Page URL.

Full legal business name.

Address (one used to verify – even if you are a service-based business).

Your Website URL.

Screenshot of your “Info” section from your GMB Dashboard.

Provide images of permanent signage or other images of proof of your business’ name and address (like a business license or documentation from your Secretary of State).

Explain what you changed right before your listing was suspended.

Fill Out the Google My Business Reinstatement Form

Once you’ve fixed the problems with your listing, it’s time to submit an appeal for reinstatement.

You will be asked a series of questions to answer.

How you answer each question determines the next question you are asked.

You must answer all the questions completely and honestly.

Here is an example of some of the various questions you will be asked on the reinstatement request form.

In order to prove that you are a legitimate business, you need to provide photos or screenshots showing proof that you are a valid business and proof of your address if you have a storefront.

These should include photos of:

Your storefront as seen from the street or the front of your building.

Permanent signage inside and outside of your building.

The inside of your business as customers see it when they walk into your place of business.

If available, a link showing the Google Street View image of the street or neighborhood where your business is.

You also want to provide Google with other supporting documents that show proof of your business’ name and address, such as:

A business license or proof of the business’ registration with your Secretary of State.

Insurance documents.

Pictures of your logo on your company vehicle.

An office walk-through video.

Picture of the office building’s directory with your name on it.

Etc.

You can upload proof in the form of images, video files, PDFs, and documents.

This is where you can make your case, so be sure to upload all the proof you can that proves you are a legitimate business at the location you have listed.

Once you submit your appeal for reinstatement, Google will review the information you submitted and determine if your business profile should be reinstated.

Google will email you about the status of your reinstatement request.

You will need to reply to that email if you have more questions or if Google needs more information from you.

Tip: Do not file multiple reinstatement requests or reach out to the Google My Business team about the same issue through different Google My Business support channels – this will only cause delays.

It typically takes about two weeks for Google to review your reinstatement request.

If it’s been more than three weeks and your listing still hasn’t been reinstated, you can contact GMB support via Twitter or Facebook and ask for an update.

NOTE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the only way to reach Google My Business Support is via email.

Whenever you contact support, Google needs to confirm that you actually own the account you are writing in about.

To prove that, log in to the suspended business listing in your Google My Business dashboard and copy the URL.

It’s also a good idea to provide your GMB listing’s CID number.

If you have a physical location, you can use a tool like BrightLocal’s Google Review Link & Place ID Generator to generate the CID number.

If your business gets reinstated, you may find that your reviews have disappeared.

Keep in mind that it can take longer for your reviews to re-appear after reinstatement.

It can even take up to a month for them to appear back in your GMB listing.

If your reviews don’t show up after a month, contact the GMB support team to see if they can assist you.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about GMB suspensions, you will hopefully be better prepared should you see the Suspended notice in your dashboard.

Remember, GMB suspensions can sometimes happen for random reasons – like if you make too many changes at one time, if a competitor suggests an edit, or even if there’s a glitch on Google’s end.

Make sure you’re prepared and that you are not just counting on Google My Business for all your online marketing efforts.

And always try to follow Google’s rules – remember they are the ones with the upper hand.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2023

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Here’s How I Made My Fiancé A Blinking Engagement Ring

In 2024, engineer Andrew Martin used LEDs to create a ring that can blink out any date. He got the idea from a fictional engagement ring that flashed the date that the groom and bride met. You don’t need to use a marriage proposal as an excuse to hack together your own blinky ring —it works as a Valentine’s gift, too.: Three out of five hearts.

At the end of 2024, 22-year-old Andrew Martin was celebrating the return of his favorite webcomic Achewood, written by Chris Onstad. The surreal story, which had been on indefinite hiatus since 2011, follows a group of friends (three cats, an otter, a couple bears, and a squirrel) dealing with everyday life: anxiety, aimlessness, and the fear of being found wanting.

Its return inspired Martin, a QA Engineer at Dematic Reddwerks in Austin, TX, to revisit a 2007 storyline in which one of the main characters builds an electronic engagement ring and programs it to blink the date he met his girlfriend. Martin decided to make the ring in real life.

Andrew Martin

Martin tinkers with the code for his blinky ring design.

This dysfunction is a key part of the storyline that introduces the blinky ring. The character Roast Beef, who suffers from depression and anxiety, wants to propose to his girlfriend Molly (a 17th-century Welsh woman who came back to life and got a job at Taco Bell—don’t ask). But shopping for an engagement ring, with all the attendant money woes, politics, expectations, and standards, sends Roast Beef spiraling.

That’s when he decides to make the ring himself. He wires a chip, resistor, and LED together on what looks suspiciously like a Ring Pop base, then programs the ring to blink the date that he and Molly met. Even the plastic base is true to the character—someone who would look down on an inexpensive homemade ring wouldn’t be the partner he was looking for.

“Roast Beef is in his soul a punk, so he wouldn’t go the traditional channel with precious gemstones,” explains Onstad. “This ring also revealed that beneath all his issues he is a romantic: He made a technology-themed ring for a girlfriend he had originally bonded with over technology.”

And that led to the Sunday afternoon when I sat down with Martin and built my fiancé a ring of his very own. I (the author) actually got engaged while writing this article, so I asked Martin to help me make a blinky ring that would flash the date that my fiancé and I met, just like in the comic. The ring my fiancé gave me has tiny sapphires in it, so I made his DIY version match my more valuable one by using a turquoise LED on top of a gold ring base.

Engaged!

The author’s fiancé Shyam Kulkarni with his blinky ring

“I really wanted to go forward with the spirit of the comic and say, ‘what can I do in an afternoon with the parts I have lying around the house,’” says Martin. “I could take it in a lot of directions, but I went the Achewood route, where I made it sort of grungy but lived up to the spirit of what the comic was all about.”

He envisions this ring as a good introductory electronics project, with lots of room for improvement and development. DIYers could add an on/off switch (right now you have to manually squeeze the batteries together or use a rubber band). Visually, there are a lot of options, such as 3-D printing a gem shape for the top or embracing a hardware-like aesthetic with a decorative breadboard of some sort. Next time, Martin would like to use flat copper tape and find a circuit base to cover the ring so it looks more like the version pictured in Achewood. Also, more prosaically: next time he knows to bend the wires before gluing stuff down.

The man himself, Onstad, reassured us that our ring was cool and all, but spoke the truth: “Roast Beef would have had a pretty tight game on this and used a smaller-circumference ring base, and special-ordered old school breadboard in green. But yours is personal; that’s what matters.”

On one hand, it’s just an LED on a plastic ring base. On the other, it’s a fan’s ultimate homage to a truly touching love story. On my fiancé’s hand, though, it’s a ring that I made just for him, that blinks the date we met. And that’s pretty rad.

Ring of rings

Martin has built a variety of rings, all in various stages of construction.

Build your own blinky ring Stats

Time: 1-1.5 hours

Cost: $10 (but if you buy supplies for several rings, say for a class project, the cost per ring will be closer to $5 or $6)

Difficulty: Medium

Tools & Materials

ATtiny85

Arduino Uno

10µF capacitor

Breadboard

Computer

Hot-glue gun

Clean, dry plastic base from a Ring Pop

Turquoise LED

3 1.5-volt coin batteries

Electrical tape

220-ohm resistor

Solid core wires

Soldering iron and solder

Instructions

Step 1

Connect the ATtiny to the Arduino Uno using the capacitor and breadboard and following this guide. Upload this basic Arduino program, which tells an LED to blink, to check that the programming works.

Step 2

Modify the blink program so it will blink the date sequence that you want. Martin explains, “We’re going to make a few tweaks to the program to make it good for the ATtiny. First, the LED we will send information to on the ATtiny will be associated with a particular pin (pin 0). Second, we want to turn a simple blinking on and off into blinking a date.” To do that, the program must tell the LED to blink a certain number of times, pause for a second, blink again for the month, pause, and blink the year. Use the (digitalwrite) and (delay) commands at the bottom of the page to modify the code for whatever date you desire.

Step 3

Pry up the ATtiny and then glue it onto the ring base. Make sure that the side with pin 1 (pin 1 has a little black dot above it) is facing the center of the ring. It will make putting it together much easier.

Step 4

Step 5

Create a battery pack: Stack the three batteries on top of one another facing the same direction, then roll them tightly in electrical tape, leaving the top and bottom clear and trimming any excess tape on the edges. Glue the pack down, keeping the positive side facing the same direction as the positive lead of the LED.

Step 6

Place and hot-glue the resistor close to the shorter, negative lead of the LED.

Step 7

Use insulated wire to connect the battery pack to the ATTiny. Connect the positive side of the battery to the power pin of the ATtiny (pin 8) and the negative side of the battery to the ground pin (pin 4). Glue the wires in place.

Step 8

Now it’s time to bend the wires. Bend one end of the resistor up to the negative lead of LED. Bend the other end of the resistor around to pin 5 (diagonally across from the pin with the dot) on the ATtiny. Bend the positive lead of the LED around to pin 8, the same pin the power wire connects to.

Step 9

Grab the soldering iron. Solder the LED wire to the battery wire and the chip, making sure to get all three. Then solder the negative lead of the LED wire to the resistor. Finally, solder the other end of the resistor to pin 5 on the ATtiny.

Step 10

Propose!

How To Recover Deleted Photos From Windows Using Photos Recovery

How To Recover Deleted Photos From Windows Using Photos Recovery Get your accidentally deleted or lost pictures back with Photos Recovery.

Using Photos Recovery, the best tool to restore deleted images, you can retrieve these lost memories.

Here, we will explain how to use this tool and easily recover deleted or lost photos on your Windows.

How to Use Photos Recovery and Retrieve Lost Images – Windows 10

Most importantly, using it, you can recover images from an SD card, and USB flash drive also. The picture recovery tool is compatible with Windows and Android, and it works flawlessly. To help restore the maximum number of deleted images, Photos Recovery offers two scan modes –

Quick Scan – helps recover pictures deleted by pressing Shift + Delete

Also Read: Best Photo Recovery Software for Windows in 2023

Recovering Deleted Photos Using Photos Recovery

Now that we know what this tool has to offer, let us learn how to use Photos Recovery and get back lost or deleted images. To use this professional image recovery tool, follow the steps below:

Download Systweak Photos Recovery

Complete Review of Systweak Photo Recovery 

1. Download and install Photos Recovery

2. Run the tool to recover deleted photos

3. Home Screen of the photo recovery tool is divided into two tabs – Hard Drive and Removable Drive

Under Hard Drive, you will see all the disk partitions. Remember, if you have locked the disk using Bit Locker, it will not be detected. This means if you want to scan it you will have to first unlock it.

Under Removable Drive, you will see all connected USB drives, flash drives, and SD cards.

4. Once you have selected the drive to scan, decide which scan to run Quick or Deep.

If the drive from which you want to restore images is corrupt or formatted, we suggest Deep Scan.

Note: – This is a time-consuming process. So, be patient and wait for the process to complete.

6. Once done you will see scan results. In the right pane, you can preview the files before recovery.

8. Select the location where you want to save recovered images.

Caution:- Never save the image on the same drive from which you are recovering the photos. This will reduce image recovery chances.

9. Afterward, navigate to the location where you have saved restored photos.

This way you can get back all the deleted images from your hard drive.

Using these simple steps in no time, you can retrieve lost or deleted images from your hard drive or USB drive.

Also Read: 5 Stellar Photo Recovery Alternatives For Windows & Mac

Wrap Up:

In the end, all we have to say is that Photos Recovery is the best way to get back lost images. Since this tool focuses on only looking for images it never misses on a single deleted picture. Also, using it, you can restore RAW, vector, and raster photos. Furthermore, the photo recovery tool allows restoring images from different file systems like FAT, FAT32, NTFS, etc. Along with these features, the Deep and Quick scan types are amazing. They make the task of retrieving images quick, easy, and effective.

Next Readings:

How to Recover Deleted Photos From Android Gallery

Best Data Recovery Software for Windows PC

How To Recover Deleted Files in Windows 10?

Best Data Recovery Software For Mac 2023 – Paid and Free

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About the author

Aayush Yadav

What Is Domain Hijacking And How To Recover A Stolen Domain Name

Do you run or maintain a website? If so, you must have heard the term – Domain Hijacking. With competition taking over the market these days, protecting your business’s identity is a must. And domains are one of the most vulnerable assets these days. This post is all you need to know about Domain Hijacking, how to prevent it and how to recover a stolen domain name

What is Domain Hijacking

Domain Hijacking is a form of theft where the attacker takes access to a domain name without the consent of the original registrant. Hijacking can happen due to security flaws on your end or the end of your domain/hosting company.

How is it done

These days businesses are coming online, and their web properties are a major asset to companies. Hacking into someone’s website is almost equivalent to depriving them of their profits and earnings. So that is why hackers prefer to hijack domains and deprive a company of its internet identity.

One reason that can cause your domain name to be hijacked could be your negligence towards security. Once, you’ve registered a new domain; the provider gives you access to the domain’s Control Panel. This panel lets you change your domain’s settings that point to the original server. And while you created your account, you must have provided an email address that will have administrative access. If the hacker can access this administrative email account, he can also have control over the domain’s control panel and eventually all the settings. Hackers usually obtain your email and other information from the WHOIS data records.

The other reason could be security issues with your domain provider. If the hacker has access to back-end services provided by your Registrar, then probably your domain is at risk of getting hijacked. So, it is suggested to choose a well-trusted domain provider.

There could be a third reason as well. Your domain registration expired, and you have disabled auto-renewal. Someone may register your domain in the meantime and you will be left with nothing. You cannot take any actions on the hijacker as his/her actions are completely legal. So to avoid this from happening, you have to make sure you’ve enabled auto-renewal on your domain names and register domains for longer durations.

What are hijacked domains used for Malicious use

Why are websites hacked? What exactly does a domain hijacker do this? Usually, the hijacked domains become inaccessible, and if the website was a source of income, you’ve started losing your money as well as your online identity. The hacker may demand money from you to transfer the domain name back to you. Or the hijacker might replace your website with another similar-looking website and misuse it for Phishing or other malicious activity. This might fool your users and lead them to enter their sensitive credentials on a fake website.

Domain Transfer

The hacker may transfer the domain’s ownership to some other name. In this case, it is very difficult in fact almost impossible to get your domain back. The hacker may impersonate you and request the domain provider to transfer the domain to some other account or entirely different domain provider. This is a very difficult scenario as you may need legal help here. Also, if you are not able to convince the domain provider about your situation, the company may decline to cooperate.

How to prevent Domain Hijacking

Prevention is the cure! The first step in ensuring your domain’s security is choosing a good trusted domain provider. Make sure your domain registrar is in the list of ICANN accredited registrars.

Now once you’ve registered and created your account, ensure a strong and unique password to your Control Panel as well as your associated Email account. Also, follow some common steps towards maintaining the security of your email account.

Not just domains, if the hacker has access to your email account, he/she can practically reach into any of your accounts. Make sure you’ve reviewed your email security settings recently. Enable security features such as two-factor authentication and sign in alerts to stay secure. The best way to protect a domain is by protecting the administrator’s email address associated with it.

You can also opt for WHOIS privacy, a service offered by many domain providers. If you’ve purchased this service then the domain registrar will hide or change your WHOIS data, so, that the hacker does not get your real details and the real administrative email address.

How to recover hijacked or stolen Domain name

The first step involved in recovering the domain is by contacting your domain registrar. Call the support team and explain to them the entire situation. Give them relevant details and complete any required paperwork. In some cases, the registrar itself is of no help. As the domain has already been transferred to some other registrar and that too probably in some other country. So, there is no other way out then getting legal help. Most of the registrars offer 24/7 call service support; you should keep this in mind while choosing a registrar.

The other option is to contact ICANN Registrar. What is ICANN?

To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer — a name or a number. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination, we wouldn’t have one global Internet.

Conclusion

Recovering a stolen domain name is not always an easy job, and it is therefore imperative that you maintain adequate website security. If you are handling your company’s websites yourself, you need to be protected from any form of website hijacking and theft. There’ve been many cases where the website owners were forced to change their domain names as they were left out with no other option and legal help was way too expensive. So, to avoid any such circumstances, you should keep your Control Panel & email account password secured and enable Domain Privacy Protection.

Now read: What is DNS Hijacking?

How To Structure An Effective Business Plan

What are the essential parts of a business plan template?

Understanding and creating different types of marketing plans and knowing when they are needed is essential to creating a thriving business. But it can be difficult to know which type of plan to use when and how best to structure them. In this article, we look at the essential parts of a business plan and show how to lay it out.

Our new, free PDF download detailing the different types of marketing plans will help you structure different types of plan and gives recommendations on how to make them effective.

Download our free PDF download – Understanding different types of marketing plan guide

This download and our other free templates is for anyone who wants to improve their knowledge of marketing planning with a few to gaining more senior roles.

Access the How to structure different types of marketing plans

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines organizational objectives and the strategies required to achieve those objectives.  It identifies how you drive your organization’s future.  It aims to answer the question: How do we plan to make our business a success?  It is a written record of goals, coupled with a track record of delivering against those goals.

As outlined in the Smart Insights Quick Win Guide and Template – Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Plan, the purpose of a business plan is to define strategies for growing profitability over a long-term period. The scope of a Business Plan is typically 12 months to three years and content usually includes:

New product development

Revenue sources

Means of cost management

The purpose of a business plan is to match targeted opportunities with resources, focused activity, and strategies. It supports in guiding and directing different areas of your organization to ensure that you are all working towards the same objectives.

If you’re looking to optimize your business plan, integrate your digital activities, or just need some help prioritizing next steps to grow your business, why not book a free 1-2-1 consultation call with the team?

Our business consultation calls are designed to put you in the driver’s seat and talk through your opportunities using the RACE Framework, so you can make an informed decision about the best strategy for your business. Book your call to find out more.

Need a winning marketing strategy?

Book your free 1-2-1 consultation to develop your new strategy with the RACE Framework

Book consultation

When to use a business plan?

A business plan is used by organizations for establishing and monitoring continuous business growth, remaining competitive, and in achieving specific goals.  Business plans are typically utilized by organizations when:

Gaining initial investment as a new business or startup

Planning market expansion for an existing company

Undertaking product development

Preparing for acquisition

Planning divestment

Evaluating resource allocation and strategic goals

Organizations seeking funding require business plans to demonstrate the strength of the business and its future to investors.

What should be included? / How should the plan be structured?

A business plan typically defines how an organization will change to become more competitive in the future. It typically includes:

A review of existing financial performance

Objectives

Strategies

Value proposition (products and services)

Sales

Marketing tactics including the 7Ps of the marketing mix

Operations

Financial forecasting

Staffing

Potential threats and challenges

Tactics

A business plan is an effective way of monitoring progress as it establishes targets in all areas of your business; from sales and expenses to staff recruitment and financial requirements.  Once established, these targets translate into performance goals.

A solid business plan has:

Clear, realistic goals which you can be confident of hitting

The best strategy to achieve these goals against your competition

Sufficient details of the tactics and actions needed to translate the strategy into action

A method to check you are on track with your plans

Optimize your business marketing plan

Looking for a winning marketing plan to drive the results your business needs? Our Smart Insights consultation calls are designed to help you discuss your marketing challenges and opportunities through the context of our popular RACE Framework, a strategic marketing structure designed to win you more customers.

Need a winning marketing strategy?

Book your free 1-2-1 consultation to develop your new strategy with the RACE Framework

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To make sure your business plan has all the essential features, I recommend the SOSTAC® structure developed by PR Smith—Dave Chaffey’s co-author of the printed book Digital Marketing Excellence.

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a great template for structuring a business, marketing or digital marketing plans since it’s relatively simple and logical, so it’s easy to remember and to explain to colleagues or agencies. SOSTAC® is a strategic planning process framework that gives you a clear structure to work through to create and manage your plan.

Here’s a summary of how different multichannel marketing activities map to different sections of SOSTAC®. Smart Insights premium members can download PR Smith’s SOSTAC® guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan.

So, what does SOSTAC® stand for?

Situation analysis means ‘Where are we now?’ For business planners, questions include:

What industry are we operating in?

What are our products and/or services?

What is our current business structure?

What do our cash flow statement, balance sheet, and financial ratios look like?

Are we measuring results accurately?

Who and where are our customers?

What are our competitors doing?

What’s working for them?

Objectives mean ‘Where do we want to be?’ What is the growth forecast? What are the top-level goals 5 Ss (Sell, Serve, Speak, Save, and Sizzle)? Here we can build specific and measurable business plan targets. Good objectives are quantified against timescales.

Tactics are the details of the strategy. They highlight in a business plan exactly which tactics occur when. To recruit new staff, for example, we would include what methods we will implement to improve our employer brand.

Action is the detailed planning of tactics. Who does what, when, and how? What processes and activities are required to make things happen?

Control identifies what you need to measure when, a review process and corrective action when you’re not hitting your targets. The Control section of the plan ensures you know if you are succeeding or failing – and you can make adjustments – before it is too late.

Which type of business is it most suited for?

A common perception is that business plans are formulated by cash-starved start-ups seeking investment to launch a new venture, but a business plan can and should be utilized by businesses of any size, type, and at any stage of existence.

Even though the techniques for business planning may vary between different sizes and types of organization, the objective is always the same: to define targeted opportunities to become more competitive with resources, focused activity, and strategies.

In smaller organizations, the business planning process may be more straightforward than for larger organizations with distinct business areas and who may need to make some difficult decisions regarding resource allocations and strategic priorities. This may lead to internal uncertainty and conflict. The business planning process, however, can also be a good opportunity to gather employee feedback on potential ideas and improvements. You could hold a brainstorming session to gather knowledge and get your employee’s support, for example. They will value the opportunity to contribute to the business.

For already established businesses, a business plan will enable you to objectively look at what is working well and areas for improvement. Many business plans are formulated by organizations that are long past the start-up stage. There may be a need for a formalized plan to manage rapid growth, stakeholder expectations, or to secure funding for growth.

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How does it relate to other plans?

A business plan outlines the long-term corporate strategy of a business, which informs and influences other plans within an organization. It is at the top of the business planning hierarchy, covering systems, procedures, resources,

and structure. A marketing plan, however, covers the sales, distribution, communications, and delivery of a product or service, intending to achieve the corporate objectives set out in the business plan.

Integrated with a business plan may be, for example, a marketing plan, a digital marketing plan, multi-channel marketing plan, and/or a campaign plan. The business plan informs these plans and vice-versa.

Different organizations will utilize differing plans, covering different areas and timeframes. What is crucial in a business is that the plans being utilized, the timeframes allocated, and how they integrate are collectively established.

To find out more about how different types of marketing plans and how to structure them, download our free Understanding different marketing plans guide, which includes campaign planning, digital transformation plans, and multichannel plans.

How To Build A Successful Construction Business

The stakes are high in the construction industry. Building homes and buildings is expensive, and safety issues are paramount. Customers tend to be cautious and highly involved in the construction process, which can potentially cause issues for construction firms. 

Construction company owners must be mindful of customer service, quality, costs and many more factors to find success and attract loyal customers. We’ll explore seven tips for building a successful construction business and highlight essential tools for everyday operations.

Did You Know?

According to Real Estate Witch, the typical cost to build a house is $466,000, and the average renovation cost is $48,384. Commercial buildings that businesses buy or lease can run $30 to $90 per square foot for materials and labor.

How to build a successful construction business

While the construction industry forecast is bright and shows no signs of slowing down, construction businesses face challenges and dangers that aren’t for the faint of heart. 

When building or growing your construction firm, pay attention to the following factors to protect your reputation and business and thrive in the industry.

1. Prioritize customer service in your construction business.

In the hiring process, seeking talented contractors is crucial. However, finding employees who can provide efficient customer service is also essential. 

Your clients will remember your team’s work and how your employees treated them during the construction process. Assemble a team who will respect your clients, display patience and show understanding when there are concerns or issues. This level of support will help you avoid customer service pitfalls and go a long way toward generating customer loyalty, earning repeat customers and gaining valuable referrals.  

2. Find your niche in the construction industry.

Contracting encompasses many niches. If you specialize in a particular area, make it known. Promoting your company as superior in a specific niche – for example, window installation or roof repair – is an excellent way to ensure you’re the one clients call when a window cracks or the roof starts to leak. 

Even if you’re a general contractor, you can still offer a broader spectrum of services while branding your company as “the best” in a specific niche.

Tip

Avoid fines and legal repercussions by ensuring you have the proper construction business licenses and permits in place.

FYI

To ensure you get paid as a construction contractor, set up clear client contracts, send out comprehensive invoices, and establish payment schedules and terms.

To have effective and efficient construction and customer communication processes, you need industry-specific tools. Here are some essential tools you’ll need:

Construction estimating software

Estimating the cost of labor and materials – plus your profit – is a crucial element of your construction business. If your price is too high, you won’t get much business. If it’s too low, you will lose money or need to revise your estimate, leading to poor customer satisfaction. 

Construction estimating tools provide reasonable, comprehensive estimates you can modify if material prices change or the project’s scope shifts. The best construction estimating software includes modules for scheduling, client communication, invoicing and project management, in addition to price estimation. 

Construction POS systems

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are generally associated with retailers. However, construction POS systems allow you to accept customer payments via smartphones and tablets, and provide robust payment and customer-tracking features. 

Many construction POS systems help track inventory so you can reorder efficiently and avoid project delays. They can also track business metrics like sales and profitability and help with scheduling. If you have subcontractors, you can track their time and scheduling as well.

Construction payment processing tools

All successful businesses must be able to receive and process payments promptly. Construction projects typically involve several large periodic payments. Getting paid without delay is even more critical because you must order materials for the next construction phase. 

While you might receive many payments by check, construction companies should also accept credit cards and other payment forms. Accepting multiple payment methods can boost customer convenience and payment efficiency.  

Tip

When choosing a credit card processor for your construction company, find a provider that offers month-to-month service so you can close your account if it’s not a good fit.

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