Contents

  • Brand Your Business
  • The Best Way To Save Money On Advertising - Target Locally
  • 3 Steps To Getting Highly Motivated Prospects Or Customers
  • So What's In It For ME?
  • SEO Basics for Small Businesses
  • Summary
  • There are a number of things you can do today to create a successful business. The key to success is founded in adopting a positive attitude and investing your time and effort to take consistent daily actions. This article shows you 15 ways to get a great start.

    Succeeding in Business: 15 Ways to Assure You Come Out Ahead

    Succeeding in Business: 15 Ways to Assure You Come Out AheadThere are a number of things you can do today to create a successful business. The key to success is founded in adopting a positive attitude and investing your time and effort to take consistent daily actions. Here are some great ways to get started. 1. Take action. Successful business owners are people in action. They don't sit around waiting for things to happen. Instead, they make things happen. Adopting a mindset of taking action is key to maintaining and sustaining the momentum you need to be a business success. Sometimes we don't feel like doing anything. But, an idle business can mean financial disaster. You should always keep a list of simple things you can do to either market your business, improve your skill set or to make your business operations run more smoothly. Taking any action, even one small step each day, will keep you moving forward towards accomplishing your business goals. 2. Make sales calls. Closing sales is the lifeblood of your company. First you must create a process for generating prospects. Making direct "sales calls" , implementing direct mail or email marketing campaigns, offering teleclasses or giving speeches are some of the best ways to build a pipeline of interested prospects. Craft a well-scripted sales presentation that addresses the prospect's needs, introduces the features and benefits of your product or service, and handles any objections that might be posed. Finally you need to close the sale. While strong skills are required in all of these areas, the most critical part is developing relationships with your prospects and customers. There is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation with an inquiring prospect, and no better way than to begin building a personal relationship with a potential client.3. Network. The best way to make sales is to create relationships with others who want to buy from you. Get out and meet others. Join groups that you enjoy that include members who would most likely be interested in your products and services. By mingling with others, sharing about yourself and your business, you'll feel more alive and energized. Not only will you have the chance to meet new people, but you might also create some opportunities that can propel your business to a new level. Networking is a great tool for increasing your visibility and a necessity for anyone who desires success.4. Complete the 90-Day Marketing Marathon. One of the quickest ways to jumpstart your business is to enroll in the 90-Day Marketing Marathon E-course (www.90daymarketingmarathon.com ). Available in editions for both coaches and micro business owners, this intensive program will motivate and inspire you to take daily actions to market and promote your business. Each lesson is carefully crafted to teach you something about marketing that you can implement immediately. You'll learn about crafting and sending letters of introduction, writing a top ten article or e-course, asking for referrals, networking, writing press releases, and many more marketing tactics. You'll also be able to enjoy additional helpful resources that accompany many of the lessons. 5. Write articles and publish them online. Writing articles and publishing them online is one of the easiest things to do to generate business. Not only do they add to your credibility, but also they increase your visibility as they are disseminated all over the Internet. Go to websites like www.eZineArticles.com or www.topten.org to get ideas about articles currently being written. You can write a simple top ten article and post it on any number of free or fee article submission sites. These articles, along with your full contact information, subsequently find their way to various websites or are included in published newsletters. Writing articles is a wonderful way to get known far and wide in a short period of time. They also create links back to your site giving you increased web traffic and exposure.6. Teach teleclasses. One of the best ways to build your business is by offering free or fee teleclasses. A teleclass provides a way to share what you know with others while at the same time giving the audience an opportunity to experience your live performance. By offering a course through a teleclass format, you can extend your reach to a global audience, opening up the opportunity to gain clients from near and far. Teleclasses also offer other benefits in that they can be taped and repackaged for sale, showcased as a special offer, or even posted as content to your website. As an added benefit, teleclasses are both time and cost efficient.7. Send out 10 letters of introduction each week. A letter of introduction is a great way to introduce you and your business to your local community or target market. If you are just starting out, you can mention the grand opening of your business and perhaps include a free offer for a complimentary consultation or a free product sample. You might consider enclosing a copy of a recent article you have written or a complimentary assessment. Include a note that you will be calling in one week to follow up. This will give you a reason to make telephone contact, which might be the beginning of building a relationship with a future customer.8. Update your website. One way to stay fresh in the eyes of prospects and current clients is to update your website at least weekly. Change something on your home page. If you make use of quotes or testimonials, change them or move them around. Add a new article or delete old content. Make sure that any time sensitive information is properly updated. If you don't have new content to add, ask your colleagues if they have something that you might be able to use. If you need articles to post, you can go to any number of online article banks, or even try www.topten.org . Finally, don't forget to check all of your links to make sure they are functioning properly.9. Return phone calls promptly. Now more than ever, time is of the essence when it comes to doing business. You never know when you might be missing a time critical opportunity. Always return phone calls as soon as you can. Your prompt response demonstrates to prospects and your current clients that you value serving them and that you respect their time and their deadlines. In today's competitive environment, if people don't get the prompt attention they desire, it's easy to do business elsewhere. In order to make it easier and more time efficient to return calls, set aside one or two times during the day when you can do so without interruption. 10. Respond to emails promptly. Today, email is a more common method of communication than the telephone. As with returning telephone calls, emails left unattended can send negative messages about you and your business. When you don't answer emails promptly, you are perceived as not on top of things, that you aren't detail oriented or worse, that you don't care about your customers. Don't hesitate when it comes to communications. As with telephone calls set aside a couple of times each day to respond to email. 11. Get involved in your community. Successful business owners get involved with their community. You can donate your time, services, or products to local charities or social programs. You can offer to speak for free to various community groups like the Optimists, Lions, and Rotary clubs. You can even start your own group to benefit the community and its members. Not only is this a great way to network and create visibility for your business, but also it's a wonderful way to give back and help those who need it most.12. Engage in public speaking. Public speaking is a wonderful way to build visibility and credibility for your business. Whether you are speaking for a fee or for free, speaking engagements are a great way to introduce your products and services to others. More importantly, they provide a way for you to establish a personal relationship with prospects by providing a face-to-face opportunity to interact. Consider "public speaking" engagements as instant networking opportunities with you as the featured guest. 13. Be customer centered. Successful business owners are 100% customer-centric because they know they will be out of business without customers. Being customer-oriented means that you design, develop and market products and services that meet the specific needs of your clientele. You design customer service programs that address questions and concerns efficiently and effectively. You answer emails and return telephone calls promptly. Adopting an attitude of service to others is the best way to ensure that everything you do is for your biggest fans - your customers.14. Surround yourself with terrific people. Business owners who want to be more than average, associate, partner and network with other highly successful and exceptional people. The best way to learn the ropes of success is to surround yourself with those who have already achieved it. By learning from the knowledge and wisdom of others, you will reduce your own learning curve and make your own success much faster and easier. Consider partnering with others who have a complimentary service and product or choose to create something new from which both of you can benefit. Or you might engage in fusion marketing opportunities where you market and promote each other's offerings. 15. Adopt a learning mindset. Successful business owners are knowledge seekers. They are on a continual quest to improve themselves personally and professionally. You've probably heard the phrase Knowledge is power. Seeking out new knowledge, whether by reading a book, taking a teleclass, or learning from the feedback you receive from your customers or clients can be invaluable when it comes to moving your business forward. An attitude of learning from everything we encounter is what keeps our perspective fresh and our ideas flowing. We need new input to create new output. Surround yourself with interesting people, things, and ideas. These are the roots from which successful businesses are born. Copyright 2004 Alicia Smith Consulting & Training. All Rights Reserved.

    Brand Your Business

    Brand Your Business

    You may have heard something about branding in regards to marketing, but perhaps youve wondered what that means exactly.Sometimes it is better to explain something in relation to something else. Thats what I am going to do so first I will start with positioning. You also may have heard that term, but also did not really know what it meant. Positioning is a marketing term that means to take a product or service and position it in the mind of your prospects/clients by comparing it with or against something already familiar in their minds. Al Reis and Howard Geltzer first published a book about it in the 1970s.To give you an idea of positioning, take Avis. Hertz car rental already had first place in the market. By being first place, they preempted that position. Everyone knew that they were #1. So, Avis, to get any recognition at all, had to position themselves with Hertz, but actually couldnt take their spot. Do you recall what they did? You got it Avis. We try harder. By positioning themselves as the best second runner up, they were able to capitalize on a larger portion of that market.Some people think branding is like positioning, but it is different. The main difference is that positioning is a fluid concept. In other words, you can position yourself at different times in different markets as different things. Branding is more set in stone- its a hard-core recognition factor.To give you a better idea, the other day one of my subordinates saw a cup of mine with red circles on it. He said it looked like a Target cup. That is branding. That red target logo is branded in that persons mind. He saw it and immediately thought of the chain store.However, Target is positioned differently its discount chain with good style. Some people even refer to it as Targ that is positioning. It positions the store with some hoity-toity posh boutique but everyone knows its right there with Walmart price wise. Good position.Branding is more about the following of rules because if you dont follow those rules, things dont look the same and people wont remember you. What if you changed your body periodically I mean really changed your body. Oh, today, I think Ill be Asian straight black hair, slanted eyes but yesterday you were Caucasian; how do you expect anyone to remember who you are when they see you on the street? It is kind of the same. When you put out your marketing pieces, you want to create a similar look and feel so that people remember you. And you want that similar look and feel on every thing you put out.The good thing is that you get to make the rulescolors the same, style of lettering the same, logo etc. And there is some flexibility as long as you follow the rules. You cant go too far out of bounds, but you can change some things within the frame of what others can still recognize.There was an actual study done by GE (General Electric). They found out that it only takes 22% of their logo for people to recognize. Only 20% of their logo needs to be seen before people recognize it.So, it sort of is like the Western concept of branding your cattle making sure people recognize what is yours.Remember I said the same look and feel? Well, the other side of branding is what it makes you feel about it. Chevrolet used to say it was Americas vehicle baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Now it is like a rock. That makes you feel a certain way about it. It still is in line with the old idea about Chevrolet. Americanism = loyalty = dependable = Chevrolet. That song that comes on is their brand. Being Americas vehicle is their position. Both give you a certain feel.Branding in your marketing has to make you feel something. A technology company cant have an old style font you might not think they were very far advanced.Take PostcardMania. Our colors, bold style font and humorous quips give you the feeling that we are happy and lively. We make sure that our prospects and customers get that same feeling every time they see our mail, emails, packages, logo, etc.. Therefore it is important to look the same every time.Take a dry cleaner for example. His postcards, packaging, hangers, etc. need to have his logo, colors and font all the time all the same - on everything. That way when people receive his postcards in the mail, they look for what specials that he has because they already like him and have him identified in their mind as something they are familiar with. If he is constantly changing what he looks like, when they get his postcard they dont know whether they are looking at his specials or what some dry cleaner in general is offering. If they are already familiar with him, they are most likely going to pause and look at what he has to say.Branding is just like the old coat of arms that families used to have connected with their name. It would instill respect, fear, and wealth - whatever. Likewise, a countrys flag gets people to feel a certain way about their country. Heck, Stalin even used branding! He used the same picture to portray who he was to his people - I am this, I am this, I am this he wanted them to think a certain thing. Its really not a new idea Im trying to get you to see it has been around for quite some time.At PostcardMania, we want people to recognize that we know how to get their attention bright colors, loud type shows that we know what were talking about in terms of marketing. But Postcard Marketing Experts is our positioning. Does that make sense? You can see how the two tie in together. One is our position and one is our brand. Were hoping to create a feeling of being expert, the best in the business, etc., but also friendly and easy to confront.Think about what message you want to portray. What do you want recipients of your promotion to think about you? What image of your company do you want to put out there? That is your brand. When people see you continually as one thing, they begin to expect the same from you and they get used to you.Remember when Pepsi came out with clear Pepsi? People freaked out. They didnt want to drink it. It was a flop. It wasnt what they were used to so it didnt even taste the same to them.Branding in marketing is recognition color, font and logo keep it the same.If you can get them to remember what it is you are selling, the more likely they will come in and get itif not, you are depending on drive by traffic and are wasting your money in marketing. And dont forget this very important marketing truth if youre only planning to promote merely one time then branding is not going to help you. Branding is only for marketers that already understand the concept of repetition.(For more information on repetition and how this works in marketing, read What the Heck is a Campaign and Why do I Need One by Joy Gendusa at www.postcardmania.com.)

    The Best Way To Save Money On Advertising - Target Locally

    The Best Way To Save Money On Advertising - Target Locally

    Over the years I have discovered exactly what derails an ad. More often than not, when an ad fails to produce results, the problem isn't with the ad. The problem is with WHO the ad reaches.Before you start blaming lack of response on your ad, stop a moment to consider who it is TARGETED to.Let's take a moment to look at Internet advertising. First off, let me say I dearly love advertising on the Net. The advertising rates for search engines and ezines are far, far lower than advertising your business on traditional media like TV or newspapers. For what one TV commercial would cost, I can advertise a business extensively for weeks, even months.But, as I'm sure you've realized by now, the Internet is no magic advertising medium. Just as often as with anywhere else, your ad can pull less than expected response. The problem is with lack of targeting.If most or all of your customers live in the geographical area of your store, using a search engine to reach people all over the world doesn't make much sense. You can consider your money wasted when somebody who will NEVER walk into your store reads your ad.The solution is to advertise on sites or ezines that reach YOUR customers at a very high rate. This could be a local site that provides sports scores for dozens of local sports teams. Or a site that lists a great many local building contractors. Very specific information needed by people in YOUR area will draw just the kind of local crowd you can capitalize on.We're seeing a sudden rise of local pay-per-click search engines. These use the same popular technology as Google and Overture, but limit their reach to businesses in a particular city, state, or region.Often these local pay-per-click sites have very low rates, a little as one cent per click. Many offer as many as 1,000 free clicks to any business that signs up. Be sure to check if the pay-per-click site has plenty of businesses listed in their database. An empty site won't attract many visitors and you may not reach enough audience to have any effect on your sales. Also watch for a pay-per-click that is promoting in your area. If they are visible to you, they are probably getting the attention of lots of your customers.

    3 Steps To Getting Highly Motivated Prospects Or Customers

    3 Steps To Getting Highly Motivated Prospects Or Customers

    With the many ways to advertise, it is easy to sometimes be in a rush to just get something out somewhere. But, no matter where you plan to advertise, there are several basic fundamentals that will help create advertisements that are effective and profitable. Here are three that will get you headed in the right direction.1. First on the check list is; is your unique selling position (USP) clear and provoking?You need to find out what makes your business different from that of your competitors. From that, you can develop a strategy based on the strengths or even weaknesses of those differences. Actually, good marketers identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) and develop their strategy from those factors. Here is an example of a USP that stems from a companies weakness:Were not #1, so we work harder to get the job done.In this example, a weakness was used to let customers know that they will do what it takes to get the job done. Customers know that they are not #1 so the service and pricing will be competitive.Having a USP is extremely important in setting you apart from your competitors. It is what gets you into the minds and eventually the wallets of your customers and prospects.2. Effective Headings and Ad CopyIn developing effective headings and ad copy, it is essential to live by the adage, Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Better know as AIDA.This simply means that you grab the attention of the prospect or customer with an compelling headline or graphic, you keep them reading with an interesting ad copy which creates a desire and ends with a powerful call to action .When developing AIDA it is important to keep in mind that all purchases revolve around basic human wants and they fall into two categories; the desire to gain, and the desire to avoid lose. The latter which is usually the most effective. This is an entire article in itself, but if you focus on those two principals, you will be on your way to an effective ad campaign.3. It doesnt matter what you say if your not saying it in the right place.Just as important as what you say, is where you say it. Where and when you place your ads will have a tremendous effect on the results of those ads. Knowing little facts, such as, the following will give you a much more effective campaign:Full page ads get better response on the right hand pages.Larger ads work better than smaller ads.If placing smaller ads, they are generate more response if lower on the page and closer to the outer margins.In direct mail, buyers are more responsive to mailings received mid-week than on Mondays, Fridays, or weekends.Seminars and lectures work better during the second and thirds weeks of the month.Those are just a few simple facts that will create better response for you. Being a student and learning all the intricate details of advertising will be time well spent in regards to the success of your campaigns.Ok, so those three simple steps will help you create more effective and more profitable advertising campaigns. Advertising can be costly if the little details are not given proper attention , but highly profitable if you do your homework and create the most compelling ad and place it at the right time and place.

    So What's In It For ME?

    Make sure that the words you use on your Web site arebenefit-oriented rather than feature-oriented. Insteadof telling your potential customers what your productcan do (features), tell them what it can do for them(benefits). In other words, describe the product in termsof the result it offers rather than the product itself.

    Here's a simple way of writing benefits, which I've usedvery effectively for myself and for clients.

    Whenever you write a benefit, you can test whether it's areal benefit by imagining your reader asking the question,"So what?" If it's a feature or a weak benefit,answering that question can give you a stronger benefit.

    Here's an example ... Suppose you're selling a digitalcamera that has a resolution of 24 megapixels.That's obviously a feature, not a benefit, but you'dbe surprised how many camera Web sites advertise theirproducts that way.

    Imagine a conversation between you and a customer who hasonly ever used non-digital cameras in the past:

    YOU: This camera has a resolution of 24 megapixels.

    CUSTOMER: So what?

    YOU: Well, that's the highest resolution of any digitalcamera available today.

    CUSTOMER: Yeah, but so what?

    YOU: It means your pictures have very littleloss of quality.

    CUSTOMER: But what does that mean?

    YOU: Your photos will be as bright and clear as if youwere using ordinary film.

    CUSTOMER: Ah, now I understand!

    Can you see how that process of asking the "So what?"question leads to strong benefits? What we started with("24 megapixels") is vastly different from the result("as bright and clear as ordinary film").

    Note that I framed the example in a particular way.You were talking to a customer who had a history of usingtraditional cameras, so the benefit was relevant to them.If your customer was, say, a professional photographer,then you might end up with a different benefit - e.g."This is the only camera resolution that is acceptedby National Geographic".

    Here's a quick way to get the "So what?" answers ...

    Start by listing all the features of your productor service. Yes, that's right - start with the FEATURES,which should be easy for you to do.

    Then take each feature in turn, ask the "So what?"question, find an appropriate answer, and add it to the endof the feature with the words "... so that".

    An example will help ...

    In the example above, the feature:

    * It has a resolution of 24 megapixels

    becomes:

    * It has a resolution of 24 megapixels ... so that yourphotos are as clear and bright as with your old camera.

    OK, now it's your turn ...

    Look at the products and services you're advertisingon your Web site. Are you talking about benefits,or only features?

    Go through the process I've just described to (a)list all your features, and (b) convert thesefeatures into benefits.

    SEO Basics for Small Businesses

    In the context of search engine optimization, many people equate an optimized site to a site with impressive search engine rankings. Sprinkle a little fairy dust over here and waive the magic wand over there and wallah... a magnificent dish of first page rankings for the Internet's most competitive keyword terms. [enter annoying alarm clock signaling the end of euphoric online marketing dream sequence]The fact is, if you think you are going to achieve rankings for competitive keyword terms simply by adding a few keywords to your website, you need to pinch yourself because you're dreaming. Perform a search for your primary keyword terms and you will see a descending list, several pages deep of websites that have been "optimized" with varying degrees of success. The key is to understand the factors that differentiate those that rank on the first page from those that don't.The attributes that determine search engine rankings can be classified into two basic categories; "on-page factors" and "off-page factors". In the most basic sense, on-page factors have to do with attributes within your web site and off-page factors have to do with attributes that occur outside of your web site. In a way, on-page factors tell the engines what you think of yourself, while off-page factors tell the engines what the Internet at large thinks of you.Lets tackle the on-page factors first, shall we? The first step is to determine the keywords that people search for when they are looking for the products or services you have to offer. Keyword tools such as WordTracker and KeywordDiscovery let you know how many people search for a particular search term and provide suggestions for related keyword terms. Use the tool to match two to three appropriate keywords to each of the web pages within your site. Once youve selected your keywords, incorporate then into the various html elements of your web pages including the title tags, meta tags, header tags, ALT tags, and body content. This will ensure that the search engines categorize your pages for the keywords you are targeting.OK, so now we've got all the "on page" stuff hammered out, your site should start its meteoric rise to the top of the engines, right? Well, not exactly. It depends on how competitive your keyword terms are. [enter off-page factors] Off-page factors have to do with the quantity and quality of incoming links from external web pages. The algorithms that determine search engine rankings depend heavily on external linking in assessing the authority or trustworthiness of web sites. In turn, sites that have achieved "authority status" end up ranking higher than those who have yet to achieve such status.A quality backlink is a link from a subject relevant web page that contains the keyword you are trying to rank for in the anchor text of the link. There are many ways to obtain quality backlinks. Submit your site to Internet directories such as Yahoo or DMOZ.org, ask your business partners or other friendly websites to link to you, or consult with a professional search engine marketing firm who is credentialed in the art of link building.

    Summary

    There are a number of things you can do today to create a successful business. The key to success is founded in adopting a positive attitude and investing your time and effort to take consistent daily actions. This article shows you 15 ways to get a great start.