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Getting Your Business Online and Driving-Up Sales

Every small business owner looks for ways to do two things on a regular basis: drive-up sales and cut costs. Cutting costs is a never ending pursuit and can only be done to a certain degree before the company itself begins to suffer. That leaves increasing cash flow to lead generation and salesmanship. The question then becomes how to do so without going over advertising budget or even how to do so with little or no advertising budget.

The increasing answer is to get a business presence online, taking advantage of the ubiquity and cost-friendly management of e-commerce and brand promotion.

Publish a Website

This can be done by even an Internet novice, someone unfamiliar with HTML, CSS and SEO or Search Engine Optimization. There are many “push-button” website publishers available online which provide user-friendly, intuitive website creation. A business owner need only select a theme, an industry, enter some text and arrange the appearance of images. Within minutes, a business owner can design and publish a website. Changes–when needed–are typically nearly effortless.

Use Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the practice of placing text, links and/or images on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Unation, Pinteres and LinkedIn. Social media marketing, often abbreviated SMM, is a great way to get a brand out to the public without having to pay a publicist or hire an advertising agency. Social media profiles are free to create and use. But there worth can be priceless.

Create a Blog

In addition to a website and social media profiles, businesses will find blogs to be a great way to connect with customers. Think of a blog as a virtual newsletter featuring the best aspects of your company, most used services and products with the added benefit of no design, printing and mailing costs. Each post is a chance to reach new customers as well as cater to existing customers. The trick is to make every post SEO and LSI keyword friendly–that is, using specific words or phrases and synonyms to get your blog indexed by search engines. An example of keywords and LSI keyworks for a dog grooming service would be “dog grooming”, “pet grooming”, “pet care”, “grooming services” and “master pet stylist”.

Make Yourself Available to Traditional Media

Being online doesn’t mean ignoring traditional media. If you want more traffic to your website, generating more sales, then make yourself available to print, radio and television media. Granting interviews and commenting on news items related to your business will only bolster your online presence.

Don’t Forget about Old-Fashioned Networking

There’s a reason local Better Business Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce still have brick-and-mortar locations. They support local businesses, help companies to get there name out among area residents. Just because a company has a website doesn’t mean people living a few blocks over will visit the business online.

In addition, being involved with local volunteer groups, sports groups, schools and churches will increase your business’ overall image and up the patronage to your brick-and-mortar.

January 11, 2012   No Comments

Small Business Owners Must Look For Value in a Resume

To find good employees, many business owners rely on resumes to find employees. What exactly, though, should a business look for in a resume to separate good applicants from bad applicants?

The resume is a quick snapshot of a potential employee. It will list simple data, such as a person’s date of birth, work experience and education. If this basic data is missing, it’s a good idea to reject that applicant.

There are other warning signs business owners should look for in a resume.

For example, if a resume is written in all capital letters or on pink confetti paper, that’s a sign that an applicant has been too lazy to study and understand basic resume formats. That laziness could carry over into that applicant’s work habits. This resume goes on the reject pile.

Any resume with poor grammar is a red flag. An applicant should know the difference between the words “its” and “it’s.” An applicant should capitalize the word “I” when speaking of himself. Resumes are not tweets to a buddy.

Is the company’s name misspelled? Misspellings are another reason for a business owner to reject a resume.

A resume with perfect grammar and spelling is a cause for joy to business owners. This resume shows that an applicant is a professional who cares about himself. He wants to impress upon a potential employer that he pays attention to details. This applicant deserves a second look.

The fact that an applicant took the time to learn a business owner’s name and spells it correctly is an indication that the applicant is meticulous and serious. This resume is also a keeper.

The cover letter deserves special attention because several key facts about an applicant can be found immediately.

A cover letter filled with phrases like “works well with others” or “I’m a team player” is an indication that the applicant is grinding out sausage cover letters. This cover letter is probably duplicated and sent to hundreds of employers.

Each cover letter must be unique and targeted to each individual business owner. It must be thoughtful and indicate that the applicant spent some time researching the company.

The best applicants will tell a business owner what their value is to a company.

Here’s one example: I mastered several techniques in Dreamweaver that create web pages 25 percent faster than the industry average.

When business owners see this on a cover letter, they know that this applicant is capable of producing a critical product quickly. Processing information faster than a competitor affects the bottom line and makes a company money. Business owners realize that this applicant has measurable value to a company.

No business can be profitable without topnotch employees. Good employees must be professional, skilled and show value that will help a company earn a profit. Knowing how to pick the right employee from a resume is a critical skill that every small business owner must master.

January 11, 2012   No Comments

Our 1,000 blanket give-a-way was a huge success!

Here are the wonderful non-profit organizations that won free fleece blankets!

Name of the Non-Profit City: State: Place
Center for Great Apes Wauchula FL 1st Place – 240 blankets
Treasure Boxes for Preschoolers Tampa FL 2nd Place – 144 blankets
Anjellicle cats rescue New York City NY 3rd Place – 96 blankets
Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas Carrollton TX 4th Place – 24 blankets
Anderson Humane Society Lawrenceburg KY 4th Place – 24 blankets
First Light Farm Equine Shelter Perry ME 4th Place – 24 blankets
Golden Valley Fellowship Golden Valley AZ 4th Place – 24 blankets
Grove Christian Outreach Center Williamsburg VA 4th Place – 24 blankets
Liberty Humane Society Jersey City NJ 4th Place – 24 blankets
Little Mews Rescue Oxford NY 4th Place – 24 blankets
Mindy’s Memory Primate Sanctuary Newcastle OK 4th Place – 24 blankets
Molly’s Adopt A Sailor Portland OR 4th Place – 24 blankets
Orange County Cavy Haven Garden Grove CA 4th Place – 24 blankets
Port Townsend Lighthouse Lions Club Port Townsend WA 4th Place – 24 blankets
Save the Chimps Ft pierce FL 4th Place – 24 blankets
Soldier’s Angels San Antonio TX 4th Place – 24 blankets
St. John’s Lutheran school and church Milwaukee WI 4th Place – 24 blankets
The Lucky Dog Project Mundelein IL 4th Place – 24 blankets
No Boundaries International    Edmond OK    4th Place – 24 blankets
Vettes to Vets    Middleton    Massachusetts    4th Place – 24 blankets
Camp Korey    Carnation    WA    4th Place – 24 blankets
Orphan Resources International    Ephrata    PA    4th Place – 24 blankets
Erica Rae’s Kids Inc.    Aurora    CO    4th Place – 24 blankets
Bibles & Blankets    Houston    TX    4th Place – 24 blankets
The PourHouse, Inc.    Indianapolis    IN    4th Place – 24 blankets

As we contact the other winning organizations we will post them! Thanks again to everyone that entered a non-profit organization.

January 9, 2012   2 Comments

Top 5 Gift Items Your Girlfriend is Happy to Have

Women know a lot about gift giving themselves, and so as a guy, you want to make sure that you are pleasing her with the right gifts. Of course, your girl would be kind enough to appreciate your efforts but she might not be impressed if the gift didn‘t speak to her needs. Ideally you could ask her and she would reveal to you what she had been secretly hoping for, but that takes away the excitement of bringing her surprises, doesn’t it? Luckily, learning about what women want is not all that hard. Presenting your girlfriend with either of the following 5 special gift items will make you special to her as well.

Women are always ready for a new handbag or purse. That’s something as essential as a wallet for men only that men hide wallets in their pockets while women use their handbags or purses to show off who they are. Almost like making a fashion statement, but your girlfriend surely can find the right occasions to make known her latest gift from you. Browse through a wide selection of handbags and purses here. Pick up something you like and don’t worry about what’s the right style, because she’ll make it a fitting use somewhere some way.

Women seem to be very artistic in home decoration, and these artful candle lamps and lanterns no doubt will stimulate your girlfriend’s artistic desire and may just satisfy her home decor taste. If you wish to create something romantic for the two of you, the atmosphere out of a candle lit environment featuring beautifully designed candle lamps and lanterns will deliver you just that. Sensing the scent of candle is definitely a lady thing, and your lady will be more amazed if you can smell the same scent.

Buying her a dress would be an intimate thing to do and no guys should hesitate to take the action. A dress for gift doesn’t have to be luxury. It’s not about what you got but rather what you did. The most important thing is whether you have the desire to dress her up. Knowing how it would make you feel when you see your girlfriend wear the dress you bought for her, take a look at these women dresses. If you like something on a model in the pictures, you’ll like it on your girlfriend too.

Does your girlfriend like to cuddle up? Well, no reason why she doesn’t like to nestle or snuggle if she hasn’t forgotten her cuddly teddy bear back when she was a little girl? You can help keep her dream alive with these decorative pillows and cushions. Bring such a gift to her and you are also making sure that you will be the one next to her whom she will lean on while holding a soft pillow in her arms.

At last, nothing will make her feel more special than presenting to her a piece of jewelry. While choosing rings, necklaces, or earrings can be quite challenging, picking a bracelet is mostly easier to do. She’ll have a more casual attitude towards bracelets than other jewelry, and trying on a bracelet often doesn’t cause much unease either. Check out these bracelets, and make her happy and yourself proud.

January 9, 2012   No Comments

Small Business Website Tips

As a small business you are catering to a niche market in your area. Whether you’re selling plastic bags or vacuum cleaners, there is one thing that your business needs: customers. Customers can be the reason that your business succeeds or fails. But if you don’t have any customers, you will fall into the later. Getting exposure for your small business is a necessity. Exposure and promotion doesn’t have to involve hiring a PR company or getting TV ads. There are several things that you can do on your own to start generating leads online. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Google Places
The first thing that you need to do to market your small business in your location is to get a Google Places account. Google Places is a great way to establish your business in your local area because it allows you to list your phone number, address, website and products for local searches. Google Places also gives you a PR 8 backlink, which is great for search engine optimization. Once you have registered for a Google Places account, you will have to verify your address through a post card.

Local Searches
Optimize your website for local searches. Local search optimization is much different than online optimization. Your business is going to focus on a small niche of the online market. This makes it easier to get ranked for searches in your area. Make sure that your keywords are optimized for local searches. For instance, if you are a Chicago plumber, make sure that “Chicago plumber,” “Chicago plumbing” and other variations of this are present on your website.

Use Social Networking Site
Social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin have gained a lot of traction online over the last couple of years. If you do not have a Facebook or Linkedin account, sign up for one immediately. You can post pictures of your business and staff on the accounts and also offer tips to your potential clients. Linkedin is great because you can get connected with other businesses in your area. This works well with lead generation and referrals.

Update Your Website Regularly
Updating your website keeps it fresh in the search results pages. Make sure that you are frequently updating with promotions and tips for your customers so the search engines keep you ranked at the top. This will also help with getting subscribers to your site. Consider updating the template every year or so to keep the design fresh. There is nothing more unappealing than a stale website for any business.

Organize Your Website
Keep your website organized. Make it easy for a customer to get in touch with you. Implement an email form and keep the contact information current. The last thing that you want is for a customer to click the “Back” button because they couldn’t find any of your contact information. Make sure that your services information is clear and unambiguous so there is no confusion about what your small business actually does.

January 5, 2012   No Comments

Top 10 Things To Stock Up On Before Having House Guests

When house guests are on their way, there’s always a last minute flurry of cleaning and preparing. Don’t forget to stock up on the necessary items to make your guests feel pampered and right at home. Whether the holidays are approaching, you’ve got a family reunion coming up, or the old college gang is in town and wants to crash at your place, make sure you have these 10 things on hand to keep your house running smoothly!

1. Tissues: Putting extra people in the house means more chance of spreading the current cold or flu. Having tissues ready and waiting means your guests will keep their germs where they belong, instead of passing them on to your furniture and you.

2. Snacks: People from different households tend to have different eating habits. To ensure that no one’s getting grumpy waiting for meal time, keep a few sure to please snacks around like granola bars these snacks are no muss, no fuss, and easy to pack along for a day trip.

3. Travel Toiletries: If you really want your guests to feel special, stock up the bathroom with a variety of individual size toiletries.  It’s 4 star hotel treatment, and it keeps your personal toiletries off limits!

4. Batteries: It seems random, but more people means basic things like the remote control are going to be used more often. It never hurts to have a few extra batteries in your drawer so you don’t have to run out while your company’s around.

5. Paper towels: This one is a no-brainer. The easiest way to clean up spills and keep your home tidy is a roll of paper towels. For casual guests, you might even use them for serving up pizza instead of washing the extra plates!

6. Blankets: You never know how different people will prefer their climate. One guest is comfortable at 70 degrees while another is shivering on the couch. Having a few comfortable blankets draped on the sofa or rocking chair will help your guests feel at ease, so they don’t need to go looking.

7. Toilet paper: Does this really need explanation? Better to have some leftover after your guests leave than to run out mid-stay.

8. Towels: Some people can get away with one towel when they’re on the road. Others need a towel for their hair, one for their body, a washcloth, and a separate face towel. Don’t go in to take your shower and find out there are no towels left for you. Get a second set to spare  for your guests.

9. Magazines: No, it’s not like the doctor’s waiting room, but it never hurts to have something available for your guests to entertain themselves. You might be cooking dinner or running a quick errand. Keep your guests out of trouble with something to read  while you’re otherwise occupied.

10. Chocolate: It’s hard to argue with chocolate. You may want to put it out to share with your guests, or just keep it for yourself to de-stress once they’ve left!

January 4, 2012   No Comments

Live Large With Less

Living large does not have to mean having the fanciest house and car in the neighborhood or out doing all your friends in lavish decor within the home. Insecurities about having enough money and showing the world you do by using credit cards or digging yourself deep into debt will only result in having nothing to show for it. Live large with less by living within your means.

First time home buyers may expect to start out with a lavish home, much like their parent’s have now. What they do not understand is most likely their parents started out in a home much smaller when they bought their first home. Starting out with a smaller home, then trading up later as you build equity, helps you afford that 3 or 4 bedroom house with the spacious kitchen and large lot. Don’t feel like you are settling for less by starting out with a small cottage; envision your dream, but use logical steps to reach it.

Everyone likes to have a sleek-looking car to drive in, but when first starting out, you may want to forego that little sports car or giant SUV for a more affordable vehicle. Flashy cars not only cost more, the insurance rates are higher and SUVs take more gas to run. Living in the city you may be able to get by with mass transportation which saves you money on the upkeep and insurance for a car. If you live outside the city, purchase a good used car that has ample room for a growing family. Research the best used cars and avoid purchasing new as the depreciation rate is high for a new car.

Look for used furniture instead of buying new when starting out. Used furniture may look new, especially if people used it for living rooms or dens that were barely sat in. Some people just want to change the style of their furniture and sell perfect pieces for half what they paid for them. Look in your local paper, at garage sales or an online community bulletin board for furniture purchases.

Visit your local dollar store for cheap items for a new home or apartment. When you move into your own place there are many items you need, but you don’t necessarily need the expensive dishes or decor to make your new home special. Trash cans, clothes hampers, eating utensils, drinking glasses, wall decor and lamps are just a few of the things you can purchase cheaply that do not have to be top of the line. While skimping on some pieces you can perhaps spend a little more on a fancy bowl that catches your eye or better than average pots and pans for cooking.

Live frugally but live large at the beginning of your life’s adventures. You will thank yourself later in life.

December 14, 2011   No Comments

Chat your Way to Success: Social Media Marketing

Social Media marketing is a great platform for marketing because it’s absolutely free. It doesn’t cost you anything except for your time. Channels, such as Digg, Facebook, and Twitter have millions of users every day. This provides you with a virtually unlimited audience to promote to. It is a powerful and economical tool for increasing your business.

The benefits of social media marketing are measured in terms of what it can do for your business. A huge advantage is that it provides you with links to your website. This helps increase both primary and secondary traffic, which in turn improves your search engine ranking. Increased traffic leads to greater popularity, which leads to more sales.

Why is social media such a well-liked platform? The principle behind this is simple. Consumers are influenced by the purchasing decisions of their peers. The more “friends” you have on your page, the more that you boost your influence over buying decisions. IModerate Research Technologies (http://www.imoderate.com/) did a study about this and found that consumers are much more likely to buy from brands that they follow on these sites.

Now that you understand what it is and why you should do it, let’s talk about how you should promote a small business using social media. The primary goal is to market your brand, advertise your specials and deals, and to build a solid reputation. If that seems like a tall order, it is. However, it is probably easier than you think.

Promote Your Brand- An advantage to the social media platform is that it makes your small business approachable. Stay in touch with your followers and encourage them to comment on posts. Share important facts, tips, and advice that your customers will relate to.

Advertise- Posting your deals and sales is effective, especially if you include a short informational blurb or link to the product or service you want to sell. You should consider offering coupons that are exclusive to your social media followers to reward them.

Build your Reputation- By demonstrating your knowledge about your product or service, you establish yourself as an expert. This builds credibility in the eyes of your followers. Postings should be informational in nature, and along the lines of helping the consumer solve a problem.

Social media allows you to establish a personal relationship with your customer. When you write, be authentic. Give them content that they will be interested in and use casual language. Never educate them just about what you are selling- outline a story so that you are showing them how it benefits them.

Comment on your followers pages. You may want to lurk for a few day to be sure that you understand what they are talking about, and then offer valuable information. Above all, be responsive to questions and contributions. Check out DollarDays in Facebook.

December 13, 2011   No Comments

Festively Frugal for the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, many among the ranks of the newly frugal may be asking themselves, “How can our family enjoy the holidays while sticking to our budget?” Gift giving, holiday meals, entertainment, and travel are a part of the season, and these tips can help keep the holidays festive AND frugal.

Generous Gifts on a Grinchy Budget: Whether it is a gift exchange at the office, or shopping for the family, gift giving can put a large dent in the budget. For those preferring to shop online, holiday promotional codes offering discounts and free shipping are often available. If a discount or promotional offer is not advertised on the site, run a quick search engine inquiry. Consider establishing a designated email account to receive discounts and coupons, then sign up at your favorite retailers for their e-newsletters, special offers or mobile coupons. Have a credit card or travel rewards program membership? Those points or credits can often be converted into gift cards, which then can be gifted or used to purchase gifts without paying out of pocket.

Festively Frugal Feasting: Hosting the holiday meal? Instead of making one large trip to the market, start early, adding a handful of shelf-stable items each week. By late October, grocery displays include holiday items such as cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, baking staples and gravy. Make sure to clip the coupons from the Sunday paper, and use them to purchase sale items to increase your savings. By spreading out the purchases over several trips, you can avoid the sticker shock of having to stock up all at once!

Economical Entertainment: Take advantage of free local gatherings. Many cities and towns host holiday parades, town
tree lightings, concerts, and cultural performances. For outdoor events, bring your own thermos of hot chocolate and
candy canes and avoid spending on pricier treats. Invite family and friends to a holiday movie marathon, or host an open house and invite guests to bring their favorite holiday comfort foods.

Thrifty Travel: To find the best holiday travel deals, start as early as possible and comparison shop. Does the destination require air travel, or is it feasible to drive or take a train? Avoiding peak travel periods, even by shifting the travel dates by only a day or two, can result in large savings. It may also be less expensive to stay in a central location and take advantage of public transportation, rather than incurring rental car expenses. Save on hotel expenses by staying with family or friends, or perhaps arrange a house swap. Another savings benefit of finding accommodations with kitchen facilities is that it reduces dining expenses.

Reducing holiday spending does not have to be daunting. By following these frugal tips, a budget savvy holiday season is just around the corner!

December 12, 2011   1 Comment

Top 5 Gifts to Give Your Parents

When it comes to finding the perfect gift for your parents, it can often be very hard to determine what to give them. Parent can be try confusing at times and the gift giving process is certainly just as confusing. Parents just seem to always have what they want and most of the time they never really talk about things that they “want.” This is what makes giving them a gift so hard but there is a solution. If you are confused and have no idea what to get your parents, you should think about getting them one of these wholesale products.

How often do you hear your parents complaining about how they overslept or how they just can’t seem to wake up early. Sleep has always been something that bothers parents and so you should think about getting them an alarm clock. This alarm clock however is unlike any other alarm out there as you will be given the opportunity to play a video or show a picture when the alarm goes off. You can set it so that you parents will wake up to see your face at first and hopefully this will be enough to wake them up. The clock also comes with more features like a radio, calendar, and plenty more.

If your parents just are not yet up to date with the latest gadgets, then you should think about letting them in on the fun. This digital camera will certainly spark the photographer in your mom or dad and allow them to start posting more pictures on their often empty Facebook page. This camera will allow your parents to take pictures easily without the hassle of having to teach them anything. This product will also work as a webcam so they can use it for their computers as well.

Your parents will most likely be the type to always lose things or always organized. Whatever type they are, this fanny pack will surely be able to help them out. This is great for those who seem to always lose things and will certainly be great for those who are organized. Be sure to give your mom and dad their own because it won’t be a good idea to have them share one. The fanny pack comes in camouflage so they can certainly take it outdoors.

Parents are often confused about the date and they certainly always forget what the date is. This monthly planner will help your parents stay organized and to give them a better idea of how to plan ahead. This 2012 planner will also make it easier for them to remember birthdays and other special dates.

Though this might not be the best gift to give, it certainly would be entertaining! These temporary tattoos will certainly entertain the whole family as most parents would like to have that “bad side” that they never had when they were young. If your parents never had the chance to get a tattoo, this might be a great gift to give them.

These are some of the most unique gifts that you can give your parents and you should certainly think about choosing one of these.

December 8, 2011   No Comments