Tips For Improving What You Already Have


As entrepreneurs, we often rush to get a project out and to market. Even though some parts of the process may not be complete but because they are not critical to the brand nor for sales, we launch the product with the intention of coming back later to complete or improve it. The problem is, later almost always never comes around and before you know it, we’re off to a new project or some other priority comes up.

However, growing a business doesn’t always mean creating new things. It also means making what you have better. The thought of going back and looking at everything you have seems like a rather daunting task and it can be. To get you started, the following are some pointers to get you going.

Promoting Yourself More

This is more of a problem for websites than actual storefronts if you have one. Take a good look. Do you have banners or clips that lead people to areas of your e-store or deeper into your content? If not, add them. They can be traditional banner ads that promote your own inventory or special offers. Or, they can be blurbs. In short, keep people clicking around your site for as long as possible.

If you’re on social media, take some time to review your own stream as well. What have you posted in the last 7, 14 or 30 days? It’s OK to not be self promoting on every tweet or post because social media doesn’t work that way BUT, if all you are posting is other people’s blog posts, funny stuff, personal references and so on, that’s not going to work either.

Go through old posts on your blog and pick out those that have done especially well and re-post them to your social networks. Make sure you update your post to have a call to action to join your list or buy your products too.

Implement split testing

When sending out email campaigns or advertising online, it is very easy these days to test out two or more versions of your ads and emails. Doing this will quickly tell you which headline or ad copy gets more attention, more traffic or more sales. You’ll also stop wasting money on ineffective advertising too.

Update literature and autoresponders

Things change over time and you may have new hours, new products, discontinued ones or simply information that is not relevant anymore in your communication. Update them and while you’re doing that, ask yourself if the designs can be updated to look more current, to reflect your brand today. Do you need to do it?

Make your sales process smoother

If you have a service business, is the process for taking a lead to a customer and completing the project fluid? Do you have all the contracts ready and/or do they need updating? If you sell online, is your ordering and delivery process confusing? Do customers tend to get stuck in one area regularly? How can the process be smoother and easier for your customers so they have the best experience as possible?

Qualifying your leads

Building a list can be an expensive, resource intensive process. You want to make sure you don’t just end up with a list of names, but one that is ultimately responsive. One way to guarantee that is to build a more qualified list. There are many ways to qualify people before they get signed up. Through the proper advertising copy, even your offers. If you use WordPress to manage your website, consider a plugin like Survey Funnel. It leads prospects through a series of easy questions and subscribes them to different lists based on their input. This way, you can always craft your message so they are highly relevant to the reader.

What to Consider When Printing Your Logo

Is your logo ready for the printers? Transferring your business logo from the screen to a printed version is a great way to enhance your brand recognition, but it’s more complicated than you think.  Since your logo is a direct reflection of the company,  it’s very important that your logo be designed and perfected for the print medium. Here are a few important considerations when preparing your logo for print.

The Logo

Make sure this is the final version of the logo you want to print. Consider the purpose of your logo, where it will be printed, the size, the colors – everything.  Having to re-print a batch of business cards or posters because the logo was slightly off not only creates a bunch of paper waste, but also hurts the company wallet.

Printer Format

If you are working with a professional printer, you should talk to them about what formats they prefer to receive. Generally, PDF files (both vector and raster) are accepted and are of good-enough quality. Vector graphics are comprised of points, lines and curves that are all mathematically generated. They can be scaled from the size of a business card to the size of a billboard without losing any of the image quality or detail.

Raster graphics, on the other hand, should only be printer at 300 dpi. A 3” x 3” logo is equivalent to a 900px x 900px image, but if you stretch it to 6” x 6”x, the pixels double to 1800px x 1800px. Now your computer has to guess what to do with the 3,150,000 blank space created from the 6” x 6” image. This is done using a specific algorithm, but the image will still become blurry and lose detail as it’s stretched larger.

It’s also good to know what fonts your printer has on their machines. Whenever possible, you should embed fonts or create outlines of the text. Not doing so may lead to delays or ending up with the wrong prints.

Resolution

Images for web are usually 72 dpi (dots per inch), which is standard for screen resolution.  However, your logo resolution should be a minimum of 300 dpi for the actual print. Most commercial printers print at 300 dpi, though if yours can go higher it is a good rule of thumb to use the highest resolution possible.

Printing in low resolution will result in blurry images which will impress no one. However, if it is a vector file, you shouldn’t have much of a problem as long as it was saved properly.

Use CMYK

You need to use CMYK color format to create a logo. CMYK is designed specifically for accurate professional printing, unlike the RGB color format which is better suited for the web and on-screen publishing. Most printers use CMYK ink or toner cartridges to print your images and logos – converting from RGB to CMYK can cause the colors to become muted and washed out.

It is better to use true black (100K black) for small text to help keep it clean and crisp, and dark charcoal or grey shades for larger areas of black.

After checking everything, you should run some test prints. It may cost a little extra, but test prints allow you to see it as a tangible thing and then change any last minute details before sending a large order to the printers.

How to Conserve Ink In Your Business

There is no such thing as a business that isn’t looking to cut corners, at least in some capacity. This is thanks mostly due to the current wintry economic climate. Many American businesses are still struggling to shake off the detrimental effects of the global financial meltdown that started in September 2008. Businesses have to had to slash advertising costs, freeze payroll increases, and in worst case scenarios, lay off people who work for them. However, there are some costs that businesses need to maintain in order to function.

Business owners may have cut the budgets, sure, but obviously no business is in a position to thrive if they don’t continue to pay for some advertising, their payroll, and office supplies. In the case of purchasing office supplies, many businesses are looking for methods that will lead them to save money there as well.

It’s understandable, and there are indeed several ways to do so. One place businesses should look to cut costs is in the purchasing of ink. There are actually a few easy ways to reduce the use of ink while printing. This may not necessarily save your business from complete financial ruin, but every little bit helps, right?

A Genuine Draft Mode

Most printers will come with at least three modes, and usually more. No matter the printer, you will some variance on the following two modes: Normal and draft. Normal is the recommended setting for everyday use. Normal typically provides the best quality for the speed at which it runs, and is frequently the default mode. However, if you switch your printer to draft mode, you will save on the amount of ink that you use.

Normal mode will spray multiple coats of ink over the document you are printing, in order to embolden the text or image. If you feel that what you are printing is of little importance, and does not need to be distributed to customers or the general public at large, switch to draft mode.

On draft mode, the cartridge will only spray one coat of ink before moving onto the next line. Is it the most classy appearance? No, not really. But it will save you a surprising amount of ink. Save normal mode for when you need your print to have that special look; use draft mode the rest of the time.

A Lack of Color

Many businesses make the mistake of using only color cartridges for all printing. This is absolutely a mistake. Not only do color cartridges use more ink, but they cost more money to replace. Some things need to be printed in color; I’m not disputing that at all. Customers are frequently impressed by vivid colors. But let’s be honest: A large majority of what you print really doesn’t need to be colorful. Use black-and-white cartridges for documents and images that don’t need to be so eye-catching.

Or, Maybe Some Green Ink

I know this is contrary to what I just said, but using green ink is an effective way to save on ink usage. Correction: Using “green” ink is an effective way to save on ink usage. There is such a thing as eco-friendly ink. It’s called ecofont, and it is available for download.

When the ink is sprayed from the cartridge, there are small holes left in the letters. If the font is at size 11, a standard font size, these holes are invisible to the naked eye. But even though they can’t be spotted, these holes cut down on ink use by a staggering 20-25%. If, for whatever reason, you need to use larger font, this is clearly not the way to go. You’re print will not look at all professional. But the overwhelming amount of documents really don’t require font size over the standard, so why fill in all the holes?

So there really are interesting ways to cut down on the use of ink without interfering with the amount of things you need to print. This is surprising to most people. But as we well know, technology always has, and always will, have the capacity to surprise.

Cover Yourself Or Risk Losing It All

In the small town where we live, there was once a pretty good family restaurant. Let’s call them “Steed’s”.

Steed’s served seafood buffet – the only one in town. The food was good and prices reasonable. While they weren’t exactly booked to the brim, they had a steady flow of customers daily. So they were profitable. Steed’s had also been there for decades. The family who owned it also owned several businesses in town and were quite reputable. Sadly, they are no longer in business and the reason had nothing to do with economy or big businesses crowding them out. What literally drove them bankrupt was a law suit.

Image via Wikipedia

The story was, a drunk driver coming out of their restaurant hit a bicyclist and killed him. Steed’s was found guilty of serving too many drinks to the driver.

This is truly tragic for both the bicyclist, his family and Steed’s. No matter what you personally think of the case and who’s at fault, the truth is, as business owners we must make an effort to cover our business or lose it all like Steed’s did. Years of hard work, feeding the family and perhaps years more to come all gone.

Your website is no exception. We’ve learned that businesses have been fined $25,000 for not having a risk disclosure on their website. That doesn’t include the amount they had to spend in attorney fees.

That may be small change for some businesses but we know of many who exist online are bootstrapping start ups or the mom or dad setting up shop to put food on the table who do not have easy access to such sums of money. Not counting the emotional stress. This is certainly an experience neither of us wants whether we can afford the fees or not.

The solution in easy. Go to an attorney to have these documents drafted. Unfortunately, your attorney may not be well versed with Internet law and if they were, their fees aren’t likely to be attainable for the average start up or family business. That’s where we found ourselves years ago.

Then, we discovered AutoWebLaw, put it to use immediately and continue to do so on every site we own. You can see the links to these documents in this site’s footer. If you’d like to get your hands on AutoWebLaw, you’ll be pleased to know it is quite affordable and you can get it right this very minute. We did it some time in 2005 and have never regretted it once. It gets used every time a new site is set up which is quite regularly. The nice part is finding new and updated documents for life. Just like the time when the FTC began cracking down on affiliate marketing, the documents were updated to reflect that and boy were we thankful.

And yes, by the way we are recommending this as an affiliate because we like, use, believe in it and think you should too. Consider using AutoWebLaw before it is too late.

Are you pricing for 2012 or 2002?

Have you noticed how much more money you have to shell out for your groceries lately? If you’ve truly been paying attention to your bills, you’d know it’s been going on for a couple of years.

It’s not just the price tag. Packaging has changed too. Sometimes you find less product for the same price. Heres one we noticed recently. A pack of little smoked sausages used to be 16 oz. It is now 12oz. The price is the same but you get 4 oz less. Some manufacturers have introduced entirely new packaging with different sizes so it is difficult to do a direct comparison, whether to mask the real pricing or cushion the sticker shock, I don’t know.

The effect is still the same. Higher prices. Ultimately, all this affects us. The cost of hiring is higher, the cost of office consumables, transportation (if any) and just about everything else is higher. At the end of the day, if our prices don’t change, our bottom line shrinks. The way everything else costs more now, it’ll eventually shrink till it becomes nothing. Not a good thing if you want to run your business long term.

I understand, believe me. Pricing is often a difficult subject for entrepreneurs. We don’t like raising our prices because we don’t want to upset or lose customers. Yet, we don’t haggle prices when we go to the grocery store. They aren’t afraid of losing our business. It’s this price or you don’t eat.

True, not every product is urgent or vital,to sustain life like the food industry. That may be why you’re hesitant. This is not about greed or turning into a big heartless corporation. Its not about pricing higher just because you can or pricing far out of customer’s reach so we can have a fat bottom line. It’s simply being realistic. If we want to keep growing; To continue paying people we hire fair wages and put food on our own tables, we have got to price our products or services for today.

If you’re afraid of backlash, try different packaging just like the brands in your grocery store do. As we rush into the New Year, and make all sorts of plans, take a moment to consider if your pricing will give you enough room to support the growth and staff you want it to in 2012 and beyond.

Photo by quinn.anya

Big, Big, Big, Big… Small!

There is a commercial for the Smart Car – a tiny two seater – that has all kinds of people proclaiming ‘Big’ from singers to politicians, business owners to children. At the end, one lone guy sees the Smart Car and says… Small! Implying Big is not the answer, Small is.

While I didn’t think the commercial is particularly clever, it drove the point home for me. Sometimes the solution you’ve been seeking is the opposite of what you have been doing all this time.

Many small businesses often start off by de-valuing their products and services to get things going and then we get stuck there.

I’m not saying having low priced products is bad or even a no-no. Sometimes you need that. What is a mistake though is staying or suppressing your pricing for everything you do, while maintaining a high quality product that in no way reflects your pricing. Very soon, you will feel like you’re working too hard, running out of steam. All of a sudden, the dreams of financial freedom seem just as far away as when you were working at a regular job. You may even begin to resent your business because it doesn’t seem like you’ve come very far. What can you do? Go the opposite way.

Start creating high end products that bring you more per sale, products that people want to buy more of – yes, believe it or not, low prices can reduce sales.  Consider products from Apple. You’d call them anything but cheap. Yet, the iPhone 4S sold over 4 million units in just 3 days. The cherry on top, most Apple customers are fiercely loyal.

Wouldn’t you like to have a business like that? That’s why we invited Armand Morin a genuine Internet Marketing authority to share his knowledge about creating high end, high value products in an exclusive webinar.

The webinar is scheduled for this Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 9 p.m. U.S. Eastern time. To join us, register here.

It is not everyday we can host webinars with legends like Armand so we are very proud to be able to offer this to you for no charge whatsoever. We’ve already invited people on the mailing list so the webinar has already begun to fill up. Because seats are limited, register today to make sure you save a spot for yourself.

We know you will get a lot of golden nuggets from this webinar. We always do when attending Armand’s webinar. Be sure to attend with pen and notebook in hand. See you there!

Sneaky Ways To Make More Or Smart Marketing?

My wife had been telling me how uncomfortable her office chair has been for a while.  So we went to the local office supply store, determined to find a chair she really liked and resolve the situation once and for all.

After 30 minutes or so, she made her decision. One of the first things the associate asked was if we would like to take the display model.

“It’s already assembled, and it only costs $7.99 extra.”

My wife almost did a double take and replied “Excuse me repeat that again” – this was not looking good – to which the associate promptly did. My wife gave me a look that said, “Seriously?” then promptly proceeded to tell the associate a firm NO. Go get us a new one.

Alas! 10 minutes later, the associate returned with not so good news. Apparently, they couldn’t find one in the store room even though the computers said they had 3 in stock, then proceeded to sell us the display model again, “…for only $7.99 extra and you don’t have to assemble it.

Somebody had trained this associate well on the $7.99 already assembled upsell. But I knew my wife will never go for that. You see, she was too polite to way what’s on her mind, that the display unit was a USED item. She later whispered to me, “Haven’t display units always been sold at a discount? But the new ploy is I have to pay more instead of getting a discount?” On top of all that, to her this was a sneaky way to make more out of a sale. An upsell. Small one compared to the price of the chair but an upsell nonetheless.

On the other hand, I can also see how an chair requiring assembly may be intimidating to someone who may be assembly challenged or simply can’t be bothered with it. In that case $7.99 is a small price to pay – used chair or not.

For my wife, the thought of paying extra (even though she could well afford it) for something ‘used’ is too much of a deal breaker and we were ready to walk out the door when the manager got involved.

In the end, and they did locate the stock. Surprise! My wife got her new comfortable chair and I was the lucky guy who got to assemble it for her.

How do you feel about “already-assembled” upsells? Would you have sprung for it?

Image by Brett Jordan

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