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by Jenna Smith
Many things are involved when you start a business, especially if you plan to achieve the ultimate success that others have. Someday information written about you may read like the Forbes profile of Charles Phillips. But before you reach that level you will have to take care of the details related to starting your company. Besides basics like choosing a company name you will also need to find ways to get the word out about your business.
Whether you have a physical storefront or your business is based online, it is best to include both offline and online marketing. The more methods you use the more people you can potentially make aware of your business. Decisions about which marketing methods will be used should be based on your target market and your budget. The goal should be to reach an interested audience without blowing your budget.
Getting Started With Online Marketing
A little research will help you find numerous online directories. These listings are great places to add information about your company. Ensure that you select the best-suited category. Include your business name and a bit of information about the services or products you can provide. Be sure to include the URL of your business.
With a little effort you can find various online forums and community sites that your target audience is likely to visit. Members of such sites can create a profile. In many cases you can add you business information, including the name, description, web address, and contact information. Get involved in discussions; make informative posts and ask questions.
Social networking sites are also great places to promote your business, and besides being free, this method is easy. Just post updates and announcements that will make others aware of what your company has to offer.
Informative articles, blog posts, and press releases are also wonderful ways to spread the word about your business. When done correctly this can set you up as an expert in your field. Every post added to your blog will potentially increase the traffic to your site, which means you will have increased opportunities to make sales.
Simple brochures, handouts, and business cards are inexpensive ways to promote your business in the offline world. Some related businesses that target the same or similar audience may allow you to leave printed material in the store, lobby, or office.
Becoming an active member in professional associations for your industry is a fabulous way to network and spread the word about your business. You may also want to consider placing print ads or even sending out post cards and coupons.
by Jenna Smith
Business is not an art, nor is it a discipline. It is a science. Certainly factors play into it that don’t typically bleed into science much, such as economics and the opinions of the public. But at the end of the day a good business does research, interprets this research, then looks at the best possible outcome to make the most money. Sometimes though it can be hard to process all this raw data into decisions, which is where data analysis comes in.
Though it may be over simplifying things a bit, at the end of the day most data gathering and analysis can be broken down into research and development, or R&D. Research involves gathering as much relevant data as possible. Not all of this are polls and statistics based on the customer base. Though knowing what your customers want and think of you is important, there are other factors at work.
The expenses you can expect if you take a certain action is also something that must be looked into, as well as the number of forms and time it would take to build a new site and so forth. In the end, whenever there is a question asked, it is the job of those in research to go out and gather as much data on the answer as possible.
Here is where it gets tricky. Development, using it in the loose term, must then wade through the data and find the optimal solution. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds, as though sometimes data lines up neatly, sometimes it conflicts. For instance, surveys show that a very vocal minority of the customer base won’t shop at your store unless you stock product X.
However, product X would have approximately half of the profit margin that the product it replaces has. The question then is how many other products would the customers buy if they came into buy X, which requires sorting through more data. In the end, sometimes you need advice from professionals, such as LexisNexis data analytics.
Think of all the business blunders of recent history. Odds are most of them were because either there was not enough data or the data was misinterpreted. Both gathering and correctly interpreting data is vital for any businesses health, great or small. Just focusing on your bottom line or making your customers happy and you will fail.
By Jenna Smith
Businesses need websites and web services for customers. Nearly 20 years ago, the Internet came into widespread use, and businesses could get away with not having an online presence. Those days are now gone. As they did then, free website services still exist for businesses and individuals to use. However, there comes a point when a business needs to purchase a web server.
Free Service Limitations
Most free website services are only for personal use, but there are a few for business use. They usually come with two limitations: ads and data restrictions. For blogs, online publications, periodicals and other writing-related businesses, ads are almost expected. However, if your business isn’t one that usually displays ads as a part of the online presence, there comes a time when they detract from your overall appeal.
Data restrictions are a worse than ads in some ways. Data restrictions usually come in the form of caps on bandwidth, which translates into the amount of people who can look at your site, download content and otherwise interact with your business online. The more people start visiting your site, the more you need increased bandwidth to accommodate them. Not only do free services tend to cap the amount of data you can send and receive each month, they often put your site on a slower connection. That means that your website will load slowly for visitors.
Free Your Business with a Web Server
Slow websites tend to make visitors find another business that offers the same or similar services. A free website service can actually impede your business’ growth because of slow connections! In addition to extremely limited bandwidth, free services also provide very little in the way of space for files and limited email capabilities. As your business expands, your website will too, and you will need more email addresses.
Web servers like the ones available at www.siteground.com can help a business expand its online presence with various packages and encourage growth. Transfer your small business website to a hosting package, and upgrade to a web server later on. The cost is low for a small business, but your site will have faster speeds for visitors, more space for expansion with no downtime and more email capability.
Even though free services seem like a good deal at first, most individuals grow out of them within a month or two. Businesses outgrow them even faster. Choose a web server option that fits your needs and your business will likely expand exponentially.
I’m not sure how we got on this topic, but a client and I got to talking about the series of Google Chrome Commercials that have been out lately. I haven’t seen this “Coffee” commercial – I have seen the one with the dad and the daughter who goes away to college and misses him. It’s called “Jess Time” .
I took the time to watch it and was struck by how they were able draw you in with the emotional story and show you all the cool Google Chrome features in the space of a couple of minutes.
So let’s deconstruct this little piece of film to see how to improve that next presentation.
- Focused objective drives the video — what do we want to feature and show people? What does my product or service DO? What circumstances would best illustrate the features and benefits of the product.
- Got characters. The first thing you’ll notice is that you are introduced to Jen and Mark right away.
- Specific circumstance. The next main ingredient is the specific circumstance they find themselves in — notice it’s one most of us have been in as well. So it’s not just a circumstance, it’s a shared emotional experience.
- Relevant music. The soundtrack is there to support the emotion and fills in for all the words that AREN’T printed anywhere – but you hear them.
- Few words – lots of pictures and videos. This is a video that didn’t require a huge amount of production. In fact it primarily used still photos and a few videos that you could have put together yourself.
- Demonstrated features inside of real applications — How many times have we made the mistake of getting caught up in the features and what they can do — without focusing on the applications or real life circumstances that will allow us to use these features. Granted, there aren’t too many people who would take that much time or effort to rescue a relationship via a document, but remember that wasn’t the point. The point was to illustrate how something works inside of your life.
And then there’s the spoof…
One barometer of how good something is or how well it touches an emotional trigger is whether or not people parody it. Since we only heard Mark’s side of the story, you might think Jen should give the poor schmuck another chance — but what’s Jen’s side of the story — take a look at this.
By Jenna Smith
A booth at a conference or trade show cane be a great way for a small business to increase their exposure ad attract new business. However, managing a booth takes some careful thinking and smart planning to make it a success. Follow these tips to ensure a successful booth that will attract lots of new customers.
It is not necessary to drop tons of money on the flashiest booth at the conference, but do spend enough to ensure that they display looks solidly professional. It should be easy-to-read and let people know why they should stop at the booth. Attention-grabbing headlines are a great way to do this. Do not mess around with putting up homemade signs. They will turn off potential customers and lose business left and right.
Get a Sense of the Past
Do some research and see what kind of booths have worked in the past. It should be easy to contact someone that organizes the conference to ask them about some of the most popular booths during past years at the conference. Following in the footsteps of previously successful booths is a great way for small business owners to move down the path towards success at the conference.
It is important to do lots of promotion before the event in order to ensure a successful booth. Send out invitations to customers to stop by and take a look at the booth. Call important customers to set up a time for a private appointment to take a look at the booth. This is a classy touch that will be rewarded with business deals.
Everyone Loves Free Stuff
Take advantage of this fact by giving away things at the booth. People are much more likely to take the time to stop and look at a booth’s offerings if they know that there is free merchandise involved. The giveaways do not have to be big items. Small little things like pens, key chains and pads of paper will work fine. Just be sure to put the company logo on every item that is handed out.
There’s an App for That
There are some great event apps out there that will help in the planning of an event. Take a look at app stores to see what is available. Planning a successful booth at a conference is easy with a little help form an app.
It never hurts to have a little eye candy to generate attention for the booth. Hire some attractive models to stand outside the booth and help pull in traffic. Once customers are attracted into the booth by the models, they will have the opportunity to take a close look at everything the booth has to offer.
Keys to Success
Do the proper planning, make it look professional, attract attention and give away free gifts. These are the crucial steps in ensuring that a small business has a successful booth at a conference or trade show. Follow these steps and it will be a smash success.
by Jenna Smith
Online reputation management is the new online marketing trend and there is good reason for it. This is a method of preventing a bad review or comment from affecting your online reputation.
Why is a Business Online Reputation So Important?
Social media websites changed the way people saw the Internet. It made it possible for anyone to write, comment or review anything. In some ways, this has damaged many people, as this information can often influence the way others think of the person or business being talked about – even if the posted information isn’t true.
As a business, you should work at making sure positive reviews, and information is posted about your business to compensate for any negative information posted there. So if negative information is ever posted it won’t be so damaging. That’s where professional internet reputation management services come in to play. This type of service ensures there is more favorable information on the web when your company is Google’d than unfavorable.
How can a Negative Online Review Damage my Reputation?
Studies by online marketing experts show that most people review or look up a company online when thinking of using their services or purchasing their products. However, when researching a company and only finding negative information, these same studies show that about 50% of potential buyers have a change of heart after reading such reviews.
To prevent the above scenario from happening, businesses prefer to implement online reputation management procedures to create a positive reputation. The online reputation management team will implement several simultaneous tasks. These tasks work much like SEO tasks, but instead of placing your website in an easy to find position on the search engines, an ORM expert places favorable information about you that is easily accessible by readers.
Services a reliable online reputation management (ORM) handles for you. While the tasks will vary depending on the information already available online, most incude:
- Forum posting to improve our credibility and establish your company as a reliable source of industry information
- The right ORM company will run contests and surveys to get your previously satisfied customers to post positive reviews on your website and other review sites, as well as social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
- Social media management – by posting comments, answering people’s questions and offering up industry related links the ORM company can help cement your favorable online reputation.
While these are not difficult tasks they do take time, and sometimes you are just too busy with other tasks that are important to the operations of your business. But important ORM tasks also take persistent work, so hiring a professional company to do the job for you.
by Jenna Smith
Although there is a wide variety of entrepreneurs, they all share some common characteristics. Those characteristics set them apart from every other profession or occupation. Without the entrepreneur, our national and world economies would fail. An excellent source for learning about entrepreneurial skills is Ehsan Bayat, an architect of international business worthy of emulation. One of the most basic paths to success to follow the structure of the greats in the past. Here are some more tips.
Skills Needed by Great Entrepreneurs
Ability to Recognize Profitable Opportunities
Entrepreneurs recognize the opportunities to supply products or services for profit. Their economic instincts tell them that people need or want a particular product or service in a sufficient quantity that will provide a desired return on investment. If the product or service does not meet that requirement, the entrepreneur looks for other opportunities.
Collects Data and Plans
The entrepreneur collects all of the information needed to manufacture and market the product. Since it is impossible to know how profitable a product or service will be without knowing the markets, the entrepreneur estimates the cost of production and marketing. Plans should also consider any competition and market share projections.
Supply chain management should be considered in this stage of planning because every business depends on satisfied customers. Customers are not satisfied unless they receive quality products or services at the appropriate times.
Creates Business Plans
Every entrepreneur wants to know how much profit is generated by the business. Beginning businesses have a larger percentage of liabilities that impact cash flows. A good business plan will indicate when the business has a cash flow sufficient to support the business. Until that point, additional investments may be required by the entrepreneurs.
Ability to Find the Right Person for the Job
Since few entrepreneurs possess all of these skills, the ability to find the right person for the job is important for success. Good entrepreneur surrounds himself with competent, reliable and trustworthy people who possess skills that complement their own.
Ability to Network with Others
A good entrepreneur knows how and when to expand his business. The expansion may be done through additional products or services in a sole proprietorship or by adding branch locations. Another method of expansion is to buy businesses in your supply chain so that you may control prices. Finally, good entrepreneurs build networks to add markets for their products or to create markets for new products.
by Jenna Smith
When you want to save money for your business, one of the greatest tools that you can purchase is contract management software. Contract management software will help your business cut down on the cost of legal fees. It will also help a business manage its relationships with all of the entities that are involved in a business. A business may have contracts with vendors, partners and others.
When a business has software to manage all of these relationships, it is able to operate in a manner that is compliant with laws and adheres to the agreements that a business has with these individuals. Here are some ways that contract management can benefit your business:
1. Obtain contracts as soon as you need them.
Some small businesses choose to hire full-time legal counsel to manage all of the contracts that a business has with vendors and supply chain managers. The problem with this is that a business owner may not always have access to the contracts that it needs in a timely manner. A business owner may not be able to obtain access to contracts that it needs for a presentation or a meeting with a particular vendor. A business owner may simply want to review one of the conditions of a contract, and he or she may not be able to access this contract because it is in the hands of legal counsel.
2. Have full control of your contracts.
Having powerful contract management software gives a small business owner more control over his or her legal affairs. A business owner is able to revise the terms of a contract at any time. A business owner may decide to add in a certain condition that requires additional payments for services for a particular client. In another instance, a business owner may want to strike a clause from a contract for a particular vendor.
Having access to this software allows a small business owner to be able to make independent choices about the way that he or she does business. If a business owner wants, then he or she can simply forward the contract to a lawyer and request that particular changes be made.
3. Revise contracts when necessary.
Contract management software gives an individual the opportunity to revise contracts in only a moment’s notice. It also empowers a business owner and gives him or her the opportunity to read through contracts at any time. There is no need to get in touch with a lawyer to obtain access of contracts that have been drafted.
Overall, contract management can help your business operate in a matter that is compliant with federal laws and keeps all of your employees aware of changes in company policies. It is essential to devote resources to the process of managing contracts for your company.
by Jenna Smith
Entrepreneurs have a unique responsibility in the business world. They have to handle so many different aspects of a business in order to ensure its success. If you are in the process of trying to start a new business, here are some tips to help you make it happen:
Set Some Goals
When you want to be successful in your chosen field, it is important to make sure that you set a few goals along the way. If you don’t have a goal to work toward, you’re going to have a hard time being successful in the long-term. Set a combination of long-term and short-term goals for your business. For example, in the short-term, you may want to set a specific sales goal. In the long-term, you might want to set a net worth for your business after five years. By doing this, you’ll be able to stay focused and move into the future.
Make Your Employees Comfortable
If you are going to be successful in any business, you need to make sure that your employees are comfortable. The quality of employees that you are able to attract will have a lot to do with the quality of your work environment. For example, you may want to go to http://www.sitbetter.com/ and get some comfortable office chairs for your employees to sit in. When you take the time to invest in the comfort of your employees, they’ll probably be more willing to work hard for you.
Regardless of what type of industry you are in, you may want to explore the possibility of expanding to the Internet. All most every business now need some kind of website to reach its customers. Most customers expect to be able to get online and see the websites of the businesses that they want more information about. If you don’t take the time to set up the business website, you could miss out on a lot of potential customers. In addition to providing information to your customers, you can even sell products and services directly from the Internet. This makes it much easier to reach people even when your business is not open.
Get the Legal Situation in Order
When you are getting a distorted business, make sure that you do not leave yourself open to any legal issues or liability. In this situation, you need to get a business license, sales tax certificate, tax ID number, and set up a legal entity. In addition to taking these steps, you should also get a business insurance policy. With a business insurance policy, you can protect your property and protect yourself against liability. This way, if someone is injured in your store, and then file a lawsuit against you, your insurance policy will pick up the tab for the damages.
As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to thoroughly plan out every aspect of your business. If you have not taken the time to create a formal business plan, you are missing out on a great opportunity. With a business plan in place, you can more easily attract investors and get approved for financing. When you create a business plan, you’ll have to look at things like projected revenue, projected expenses, market analysis, and competition. Just forcing yourself to evaluate these factors can have a lasting impact on the success of your business overall. Many lenders and investors will also require you to have some kind of a business plan before they will consider giving you any money.
If you want to be able to take your business concept from an idea to a reality, you’re going to need to stick with it. This isn’t something that will probably happen overnight, but it can be very rewarding in the long-term. With these tips in mind, you should be able to take any good business idea to the market and experience some success.