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Category — Small Business Advice

More Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

A small business has to develop and apply the right kind of marketing campaign. The plan increases the chances of getting the Marketing Tips for Small Business Ownersright reply from a target audience. It is essential that entrepreneurs should know that there are different types of campaigns. First, they must know the target market. Along the way, they must be ready to make changes, product improvements, package changes and other steps.

Target Audience

Business owners must know the right customers to reach and best times and methods to reach them. Succeeding in any campaign means finding and exciting the target audience. The most accurate results can be obtained from various studies and surveys. After figuring out the needs of the company, it is time to be creative and spark interest from the targeted section of the public.

There are certain steps that businesspeople can do to carry out demographic research. They should list the different groups of customers and then list the ways that the product or service suits each group. Next, advertising methods and messages should be chosen that work best with each group. People should set up continual case studies of the targeted market to know what to do to deal with competitors. The perception of certain ads will vary with different groups. Some people are turned off by certain messages, so it is important not to offend a potential customer.

Start Small

Starting small is important until enough profits are available. Small business owners should not imitate campaigns that are done by huge businesses because the work will cost too much. Going the whole nine yards is not required because the process is just starting. One of the first steps is to develop the ads well so that sales are converted correctly.

Concise Ads

Advertising should be brief and straight to the point. Promotions that are concise and interesting will always be more successful because an entire book is not required to sell a product or service. The task will be highly affordable, as well.

Monitoring

There are print and online marketing options available. Regardless of the advertising option, business owners must constantly monitor the ups and downs of the campaign. Putting up a campaign is not enough work – people have to make sure that it is effective. Those who have small companies should make use of the expenses in the best way possible or they could go bankrupt.

The online world has more than enough resources that promote guides for professional campaigns. Entrepreneurs should be able to customize the guide and use their own personalities. Many companies participate in mass advertising to lure in as many customers as they can, but small businesspeople should start small in terms of budget and target as much as possible.

July 16, 2012   No Comments

Getting Targeted Customers With Pay Per Click Marketing

Many businesses are always on the lookout for ways to bring in new customers. While there are plenty of traditional mediums available such as TV, radio, and print, there are sometimes more effective ways to get targeted leads. Instead of sending out a mass marketing message to a large group of people, and hoping to find a few, it is sometimes better to tailor a message to a select group of people. This exact strategy can be used by utilizing pay per click marketing. What exactly is pay per click marketing, and why would a business want to use it?

Pay Per Click Marketing Basics

With pay per click marketing, businesses can create marketing messages that go out to people who are looking for what they have offer. These programs are typically offered by search engine companies like Google. Companies can sign up for the program, and then create ads that are designed to get customers to their websites. They choose a specific list of keywords that will trigger the ad.

Once the ad is running, when someone types one of the keywords into the search engine, the ad can then be shown on the side of the page. If the user clicks on the ad, he is then taken to the advertiser’s website and the advertiser is charged a fee. The amount that the advertiser has to pay is based on the popularity of the keyword and one other advertisers are bidding for it.

Advantages

One big advantage of using this method of marketing is that it can provide highly targeted traffic to a company’s website. With this method of marketing, ads are only shown people who are actively searching for something related to the ad. Then the advertiser only has to pay when someone actually visits the site. This means that the advertiser is only paying when people who are really interested come to the site.

Another advantage of this method of marketing is that it is appropriate for any size business. Companies that have million dollar marketing budgets can use it just as effectively as companies that only want to spend $5 per day. This makes it an ideal solution for any business who wants more customers.

Tips on Success

Although this is a very powerful marketing medium, not every business succeeds with it. It has to be used properly in order to really work. One of the most important things to keep in mind when using this method of marketing is to use attention-grabbing headlines. It’s critical to get people’s attention when they are searching online. It is also important to have a consistent message always from the headline to the website. People like to see what they are looking for when they visit a website.

Considerations

Overall, pay per click marketing is a method that can really work for a business. If the business is willing to test out a few different ads and keywords, the perfect ad can be developed which brings in customers every day.

July 12, 2012   No Comments

Five Things Not To Overlook When Setting Up A Website

Web hosting problems can result from doing inadequate research during the host selection process, but you’ll need these services if you hope to successfully market your business online. Some useful tips in choosing a web host can set you on the right track in your choice of provider. If you don’t do the appropriate research, however, you can end up wasting months of time and thousands of dollars and you may even damage the reputation of your business. Before starting on a search for the best web hosting available, analyze your business requirements.

Ask Yourself:

  • Is there any software you require to be run on your host server?

  • What kind of a load do you anticipate for your site?

  • What are your predictions about growth?

  • What kind of technical support will be needed?

  • What if anything will be required to interface your company’s software with your hosted applications?

  • What kind of security is required to protect your business? There may be legal requirements as well as general security standards that need to be met.

The answers to your questions will guide you to find the right kind of hosting service.

Five Things to Consider in Web Host Selection

All your security, technical, operational and support requirements as well as the reputation of potential providers need to be considered. Here are some resources that will help you decide whether your prospective web hosting service is right for you.

  • Reputation

Consumer Rankings has published a recent top 10 report for hosting services. Their reports are based on direct product analysis as well as product reviews. In depth information is provided about each site including awards received, services provided and pricing. Links to each company’s site provide a convenient way to do further investigation.

  • Security

Security is important for maintaining the confidentiality of company information and the integrity of company assets, and is often a legal responsibility, especially when data is financial or patient related. Many web hosts offer security services and secure email at a reasonable cost. Services like web hosting with Yahoo Small Business will provide you with many of the basics you need to run your company along with business-grade security features. Desirable security features include SSL for secure encryption, Firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), DDos prevention to protect against the ever more common denial of service attacks by hackers, which prevent online services from operating. A secure PoP3 server, antivirus and antispam are important as well.

  • Scalability and Availability

As a business grows, its information needs and associated bandwidth grow as well. There may very well be an increase in traffic to the site. A good web hosting service will be able to accommodate an increase in resources and should be able to do this in a transparent fashion. In addition, a hosting service should operate 24/7 with excellent response time.

  • Technically Requirements

Technical requirements may include specific server side software such as PHP, Perl, MYSQL and Python. Some businesses may need software for eCommerce or rapid website development. Database administration tools such as PhpMyAdmin may be required.

  • Support Services Adequacy

When there are questions or problems it’s important to know that you can talk to support, because your web host controls the web server infrastructure and you don’t.

Choosing the Provider

Having defined your company’s requirements and examined how selected host services can meet your company’s needs, it should be easy to narrow things down to some excellent candidates. Campanies like Yahoo have impressive track records and should give small business managers peace of mind with regards to their hosted operations. Other hosts may be more appropriate for other websites. Small scale startup businesses with Linux hosting in mind may be able to get excellent low cost or even free hosting services to meet their needs.

July 11, 2012   No Comments

Invest in the Right Business Technology to Save Money

During the course of running a business, there are many expenses that may pop up which entrepreneurs didn’t expect. If a business owner is looking for ways to save money on the expenses that they incur on a regular basis, investing in the right technology might make a difference. There are several new technologies that a company could put its money into in order to save over the long-term. Here are a few examples of technologies to consider.

VoIP

VoIP or voice over Internet protocol is one technology that businesses may want to look at. With VoIP, businesses can set up a complete phone system that runs over the Internet instead of through phone lines. Businesses can get a complete PBX system just like a regular company has. The big difference with VoIP is that it usually much cheaper than other comparable systems. With VoIP, users typically pay one low monthly fee for all of their inbound and outbound calls across the country. Users can choose their area code or get a toll-free number as well. If users are paying too much for their current phone service, they may want to check out VoIP.

Internet Fax

Another technology that could potentially save a business money is an Internet fax service. With Internet fax service, a company can avoid having to print out faxes that come in. Instead of printing them out, the company can simply receive them online through email. If the message is important, it can be printed out. If not, it can be deleted. This also has the potential to save the company quite a bit of money in toner and other expenses. It also eliminates the need to pay for a separate phone line for the fax machine. In fact, it can eliminate the need for a fax machine all together.

Alternative Energy

One of the biggest expenses that most businesses incur is paying for their electricity costs every month. With the way that electricity costs are rising, many businesses are looking for ways to save money on these expenses. With advancements in technology, there are now several ways that a company could get electricity without paying for it from the grid. Many businesses are switching over to solar power or wind power as a way to save money. While these technologies do come with a large initial cost, they will usually pay for themselves pretty quickly.

Online Communication

Many businesses spend a lot of money making sure that every employee has a phone with an intercom system installed on their desks. While this is a common way to communicate with other people in the building, it is expensive. A cheaper alternative is typically to just use instant messaging software. Everyone already need a computer on their desk to do most jobs. If they will simply install instant messaging software on the computer, employees can communicate with each other for free. Not everyone needs a phone in order to do their jobs effectively in today’s business landscape.

How are you saving with technology?

July 9, 2012   No Comments

Planning To Market Your Business

Marketing could improve your company’s local identity. Using several low-cost marketing ideas, you might increase your company’s revenue too. Small business owners who realize a higher sales volume may notice greater profitability as well. You can take a methodical approach toward growing your small business.

Target Marketing
Identifying your prospective customer base could enable you to spend your marketing dollars in the proper places. Using data from your existing client base, you may be able to determine demographics such as whether most of your customers are consumers or business owners. Target marketing can position you to concentrate your resources toward growth opportunities.

Research
Studying information about customers who buys your products or services could enable you to perform some market research. An analysis of your client base within certain zip codes may enhance your ability to distribute a sufficient amount of marketing pieces. Your research might suggest the need for greater circulations in some areas such as direct mail or printed advertisements.

Budgeting
A marketing budget can limit the amount of money that you spend on advertising campaigns or promotional activities. Staying within your allotted marketing budget could enable you to keep your small business finances in order. You might be able to implement a strategy that utilizes a portion of your sales revenue toward marketing initiatives.

Plan
Using a well-written plan, you can focus on the advertising objectives for your company. Your plan might include activities for building your company’s brand recognition or corporate identity. Planning to grow a small business could entail online or retail strategies.

Internet Marketing
An Internet presence frequently provides ideal options for most small businesses. Typically, you can advertise more cost efficiently, showcase your products for less money and you can create items such as an online newsletter or customer surveys. Using an inexpensive website, you can market your products and your services on the Internet.

Printed Advertising Materials
Whether you advertise in local newspapers or with specialty promotional items, you may be able to grow your small business with printed materials. Using newspaper ads, postcards and flyers, you may be able to create compelling buying incentives. Small retail business can design banner ads and other types of display advertisements to attract more customers into local stores. You can locate an assortment of printed promotional items for your small business.

Discounted Promotional Items
Low-cost promotional materials could enable you to buy items in larger quantities or you might realize a greater profit potential. Local office supply stores or local printing companies may provide discounted promotional items. Shopping for promotional items online could help you save more money.

Summary
Incremental steps may be taken toward building your small business. Some governmental agencies provide financial assistance and small business marketing ideas for newly formed businesses. You can obtain help toward growing an existing business too.

June 20, 2012   No Comments

Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Small Business Online

Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier for a small business to engage in efficient marketing on a shoestring budget. In many cases, you can even compete with much larger businesses by being smart and utilizing cost effective advertising. With that being said, let’s talk about some marketing methods that are either free or inexpensive for small business owners.

Starting a blog is something that has become commonplace and is great for staying connected with existing customers and acquiring new customers. The process is pretty straightforward and involves routinely posting promotions, new products or services, special offers and general industry information. Blogging tends to be effective because it’s a great way to interact with your demographic on a personal level and helps establish trust. It’s also extremely convenient and allows you to reach numerous people with ease.

If you already have a website for you business, you can simply incorporate a blog into it. Otherwise, you can purchase a domain and a start a blog with your own dot com. If you aren’t concerned with having a domain, you can create a blog completely for free on websites like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Typepad.

Another technique that’s free to use is social media. By creating pages on some top visited websites like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, you can interact with relevant people within your industry all around the world. After creating a page and filling out the profile with your business information, you can update your page with helpful content that makes people want to follow you. You can also streamline the process by following other people within your niche and networking with them.

You can also sync up your different social media accounts so that followers on one website will follow you on another. In time, you can expect to build a significant following of people all over the world who are interested in your business. After you achieve a following, you will have a loyal group of individuals who will make purchases as well as recommend your business to their followers, friend and family. For this reason, other people sometimes end up doing your marketing for you with social media. If you have products or services that are truly great, they may end up going viral in some cases where they reach a massive audience overnight.

If you have a website, setting up an email campaign with a company like Aweber can also be effective. While this service costs around $20 per month, it’s a great way to leverage your website to increase sales. It works by creating an opt in form for your website where people can sign up to receive your newsletter in their email. Once you create a list of people, you can simply send out bulk emails that features things like new products or special promotions. This technique tends to work well because of the genuine interest that most people will have when receiving emails. As a result, you can often expect a high conversion rate.

June 13, 2012   No Comments

Saving Money While Running a Small Business

Small business owners are constantly keeping an eye on the company bottom line and doing everything possible to generate a profit. Developing ways to generate new business is the lifeblood of any organization. But keeping operating costs low is also a method for creating profit for the bottom line.

The difficult part that most business owners run into when it comes to saving money on operations is maintaining product and service quality. There are techniques a small business owner can use that will keep operating costs low while allowing the entrepreneur to retain the quality of his offerings.

Independent Contractors
As a business grows, it becomes inevitable that the company will need to bring in people to accommodate the increase in activity. The problem is that employees become expensive with the need for payroll services, office space, office equipment and overhead costs such as utilities. Employees also get paid sick days, vacation time and weekends off. Independent contractors eliminate all of those extra costs.

When a company utilizes independent contractors, it does not have to supply any office space, office equipment or do any payroll work. The independent contractor is brought in to do a specific task by a deadline utilizing its own resources. All the company pays for is results.

Marketing
A small business does not want to skimp on its marketing budget, but the costs of doing large-scale advertising can get expensive. That is where the Internet comes into play. The Internet is a way for a small business to reach millions of potential customers simultaneously and for almost no cost.

Social networking is a small business marketing resource that should be maximized as much as possible. There are marketing companies that specialize in social networking for businesses that would be worth looking into. The return on that investment could be significant.

Videos on the Internet are becoming popular, and that is why a small business should utilize the free video hosting websites to its advantage. A small business owner can create inexpensive product or company videos and then promote them across the social networks. As long as the videos are entertaining, they will gain an audience.

Facilities Costs
Many small business owners save money by running their businesses from home. But there are other businesses that cannot run their businesses from home and need to rent facilities. One of the ways a company could save money on facilities costs is to share costs with another company. For example, an accounting professional can share an office with an attorney and the two can split all of the costs of running the office.

Another way to save money on facilities costs is to utilize free public resources. For example, rather than renting an office space with a large conference room for presentations, a company could rent a smaller office space that shares a conference room with the other tenants in the building. The company still gets the office space it needs and it also has access to a free conference room.

Running a small business means watching out for expenses. With some creativity, a good entrepreneur can find creative ways to keep operating costs low and profits high.

June 1, 2012   No Comments

Save Money By Hiring Independent Contractors

Small businesses need to save as much money as possible. Smaller companies simply do not have the same financial resources that a larger company will have. Controlling how much money is spent on payroll can be a way for a small business to stay competitive. Hiring independent contractors offers a cost-effective solution when a business needs to hire extra help.

Save On Payroll Taxes
All workers must devote 15.3 percent of their salaries to payroll taxes. Employees only have to pay half that amount while employers pay the other half. Independent contractors must pay the full amount of payroll tax themselves. Employers are also responsible for unemployment taxes as well for their employees. Independent contractors do not get those benefits in most cases.

Negotiate A Price Per Project
Independent contractors will be used only for specific projects. All payments are negotiated ahead of time meaning you know what your labor cost will be per project. Employees paid by the hour must be paid for each hour they are on the clock. A project that takes longer than expected would cost more if a small business relied heavily on hourly employees. Any increase in payment for an outside contractor must be negotiated and approved by the company.

Terminate The Relationship Whenever You Want
It can be very hard to terminate an employee. There are many laws that dictate how you must fire an employee. It takes a long period of time documenting behavior before you have enough protection against a wrongful termination claim. Court costs and legal fees also could potentially add to the cost of terminating an employee. Independent contractors may be let go after the completion of a project. You may even be able to end your relationship even sooner than that depending on your contract with that contractor.

Contractors Cover Their Own Costs
Employers generally will cover travel and other expenses racked up during the course of business. Contractors must provide the funds to cover their expenses. A small business can now afford to send a contractor out to Arizona from New York for a sales meeting without footing the bill. This allows the company to expand its marketing reach without spending too much money. Not having to cover these costs can be a winning scenario for a company that is just starting out with limited funds.

Small businesses need to use every advantage available to save money on operating expenses. Using independent contractors to save on payroll costs can be one advantage to large to overlook. Contractors will usually perform at a high level while offering increased flexibility to the company. Small businesses can operate more like a large company without having to spend like them as well.

April 12, 2012   1 Comment

Small Business 411

Opening a small business is a daunting enterprise these days. There’s a lot to remember, but most small business tips fall into four broad categories: plan, specialize, advertise and save.

Plan
Small business owners may be tempted to start right away, but without a plan, they’re going nowhere. An owner needs to take the time to sit down and write out a business plan. A business plan is simply a road map that lists business goals, how the owner means to achieve them, and in what time frame. Owners who plan to borrow money should always have a business plan. Potential lenders will demand to see this document, because a detailed plan shows them that the business owner is serious about his venture. It also tells them exactly how he proposes to pay back the loan.

Specialize
A small business owner won’t be able to undercut large competitors on price – at least, not for long. The best small business strategy is to offer unique, value-added products or services that customers will be willing to pay more to get. An owner should find a unique niche and do his best to provide products or services that others don’t have.

Market research is also essential for a small business owner. He needs to identify not just a unique product or service, but who he’ll be selling it to. A business owner should ask if there’s a demand for his product or service, and if so, how much? He needs to determine if he will have many competitors, or few, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Advertise
Once a business owner has chosen a product and identified his market, he must get his business out there, and these days, that means going online. While it’s possible to be up and running within hours with free or nearly-free websites, it may be wiser for a business owner to spend a little money for a professional website, since the look of a business website influences customer perceptions about the company. It’s also important for the website to be glitch-free and easy for customers to use. A business website should offer customers many payment options, and every page should have a link to the checkout.

A business website needs to rank high in online searches to be found by online customers. Ranking high requires an understanding of search engine optimization, or SEO. If, for example, the owner of a small spa wants his business to rank well in online searches, he might sprinkle phrases like “spa services” or “spa facial” many times throughout his website. When potential customers search for those terms, websites with heavy concentrations of those terms get called up.

An owner should also consider establishing a Facebook and Twitter account for his business. Social media are increasingly important marketing tools and can provide a fledgling business many new customers.

Save
It’s important for a business owner to resist the temptation to max out that new business card. It usually isn’t necessary for a new business to have brand-new furniture or office equipment. Owners should buy used equipment whenever possible to save money, and purchase non-perishable supplies in bulk. An owner should work out of his home for as long as possible to save on rent. Banks, libraries, conference centers and many apartment complexes and resorts offer rooms that can be reserved for business meetings–sometimes for free.

April 9, 2012   No Comments

Debt settlement – Wipe Away Your Debt Problems

Debt settlement is a suitable debt relief option that helps you reduce your outstanding debts to some extent when you find it difficult to repay the entire debt amount in full. This situation happens mainly when your financial condition is not strong and you cannot manage your outstanding debts on your own. You may settle your debts either on your own or seek professional help so that you can free yourself from its clutches at the earliest time possible.

5 Advantages of a debt settlement program

Have a look at the 5 advantages of a debt settlement program.

1. Outstanding balance gets reduced – The main advantage of enrolling with a debt settlement program is that your outstanding balance gets reduced by 40-60% of what you actually owe. This can be done when your debt expert negotiates with your creditors and makes them understand about your financial condition due to which you cannot afford to make the debt payments in full.

2. One time payment – This is another advantage of a debt settlement program. You pay the settlement amount to the company and when the entire amount gets accumulated, the company distributes it amongst your creditors. Thus, you do not have to face the trouble of paying your creditors individually.

3. Professional experts guide you – If you are a debtor who finds debt unmanageable, you decide to enroll with a debt settlement program. In this program, the debt expert assesses your financial condition thoroughly and then fixes upon a payment that you have to pay to the company. With the proper guidance of the professional experts, you find it much easier to repay your outstanding dues within a specific time period.

4. May get rid of harassing calls – As you enroll with a debt settlement program, you make your debt payments through them. The company then informs your creditors about it so that they may stop giving you harassing calls for payments. Thus, you may get rid of the harassing calls of the creditors.

5. Quick way to get rid of debt problems – Debt settlement is an easy and quick way to get rid of your unnecessary debt problems. When you find it difficult to repay your entire debt amount, you opt for this debt relief option so that you can manage to make your debt payments and, at the same time, free yourself from the clutches of debt burden.

If you are a debtor who has fallen into excessive credit card debt problems, it is advisable that you do proper research and get in touch with an authentic debt settlement company. Debt settlement is the right option to wipe away your debt problems even when you face financial problem so that you may be able to live a debt free life.

March 19, 2012   No Comments