Archives for January 2006

Viral Marketing Chart

Viral marketing has to be up there as one of the best ways to generate mass exposure for your brand. When the web came along viral marketers gained access to a communication medium ideal for viral distribution. Jokes, images and movies ride the wave of networked communications through email forwards everyday and more often than not some clever company is benefiting from the exposure that only “going viral” can deliver.

Viral marketing in a nutshell is when a company creates something that is interesting and compelling enough to make a person want to forward it to their friends or pass the word on. With the advent of email and the world wide web viral marketing campaigns have the tools to make the process easy, but the difficulty in producing something interesting enough to go viral hasn’t changed. Creativity is still rewarded but you can never be certain what will go viral and what will just get a little chuckle and be deleted.

For small business the web has reduced entry barriers to produce viral campaigns. A simple flash movie can be all it takes provided the content is interesting enough. It’s a fine art though, producing something worthy of being forwarded that also provides a branding or marketing message for the company behind it is no easy task. Often viral campaigns work very well from a distribution sense but the subsequent increase in business awareness is not so good.

Take a look at the following viral campaigns and see if you can determine what product or company is behind them and what they are trying to promote.

http://www.viralchart.com/

Small Business Branding Redesign To Launch Soon

The finishing touches to complete the the Small Business Branding new blog design are underway and hopefully in the next two weeks you will see a brand new look here. Coinciding with the redesign I will be posting a seven part article series titled Internet Marketing For Small Business, a beginners introduction to growing your business through the Internet.

I’m really excited about the new design because they look fantastic. I realize not everyone will be as impressed as I am since we all have different opinions but it will make this place unique in the blogosphere, which I think is important considering this site has the term “branding” in it’s title.

Stay tuned everyone!

Yaro Starak

Portable e-Book Reader To Be The iPod For Books

If you are at all like me you consume books quite voraciously. Books, and education in general I believe are part of the key to a successful life and meeting goals. When it comes to small business books have taught me some of the most important lessons and provide me with a lot of motivation.

If you are a fan of Star Trek like me (go on, admit it) you will be quite familiar with the little pads that have replaced the paperback book we know currently. Paper books still exist in the Star Trek universe but for most everyday tasks they use digital computer pads.

I’ve always thought we would eventually get to that stage as well and it is only time before e-Books become really mainstream. I’m just as big a fan of e-Books and digital information as real world books but for a long time there has been an inherent problem with them – you had to be read on a computer or PDA device, or printed on to paper to be read.

I don’t know about you but there is only so much reading I can do from a monitor and even less from a small portable device. You can’t really take an e-Book with you to bed as night time reading before sleep unless you print it out. Printing is not cheap and reading large pieces of paper is not the same as a nice compact book. Finding a good portable way to consume e-Books is definitely a challenge.

Enter The Sony LIBRIé e-Book Reader

Sony hopes that there new device will do for books what the iPod did for music.

The Inquirer: Electronics announced earlier this week the first ever consumer application of an electronic paper display module with Sony’s e-Book reader, the LIBRIé. E Ink says in its press release that the "revolutionary" electronic ink technology offers a "truly paper-like reading experience". What a world we live in when we can accurately simulate reading a piece of paper.

The e-paper display is reflective and apparently not difficult to read in bright sunlight, or in dimly lit environments. The print on screen is viewable from "virtually any angle," says E Ink.

If this device can accurately simulate paper and cause as little eyestrain as a standard paperback novel then I’m really excited. Besides the cool factor, being able to carry around information products and read them on the go would certainly be handy, not to mention how much it will help the digital information products industry, which I currently make money from.

5 Tips To Profit From Your Customer List

My last article – Small Business Fundamentals – The List – discussed how important it is to maintain lists, in particular a customer list. Hopefully you already have a list or two in your small business or at are putting into place plans to build some lists.

Once you have started to build a list of customers it’s time to consider methods to leverage that list to produce more customers. In my case my list is completely online and based on email subscriptions and I occasionally send out broadcast emails to make use of my best assets – my existing customers.

Here is a list of some of the techniques I apply to my client lists. Some of these are so simple you may be wondering why you didn’t think of them before. Others may not apply to your business exactly but should stimulate ideas and help you come up with ways to leverage your client lists.

  1. Broadcast Monthly. As a rule I send out at least one message per month just to keep communication lines open. You don’t want to constantly be barraging your customers with sales every email so in my monthly broadcasts I usually inform my customers of new resources that have become available at my site. I often upload free articles that I source from the places like Ezine Articles and websites that I partner with. If you can, try and create unique resources of real value – writing articles yourself is an option if you have knowledge about the industry your business operates in. I inform my customers about the new resources and end with a small reminder about our services – 10% sales pitch, 90% good content.

  2. Offer Discounts. I have a list of people that have yet to become customers, my prospects list. For this list I have an automatic series of responses sent out, first starting weekly, then turning monthly that offers them enticements to join. Once a prospect has been subscribed to my list for a long time I have an automatic email go out offering them a discount to try my business out. I even cut the price to the point where I don’t make a profit just to get the prospect to trial the service. I know if they like it they will use it again so often the act of converting them into a customer is the final roadblock that a discount offer removes.

  3. Encourage Referrals. One of my favourite techniques is to offer incentives for my present customers to bring in their family and friends. The easiest customers to acquire are from current customers recommending your business. Word of mouth is always the best marketing method so why not encourage it as much as you can? Each current customer is potentially the best salesperson you could ever find and sometimes all it takes is an offer, like a credit for services/discount voucher or even just an email suggesting they tell friends about your business. Happy customers are happy to spread the word, they just sometimes need a little nudge to do it.

  4. Joint Ventures. One of the best ways to gain exposure to many new prospects is to conduct a joint venture with another business operating in a complimentary industry to your own. In this case their products or services are not competing with yours but you share similar customers and can cross promote to effectively double your reach with a single broadcast email. You send out an announcement about your partner’s services or products to your list and they do the same to their list.

    The problem with this method is you need to have a reasonably sized list so that you have something of value to trade. If you only have 50 customers on your list it’s only realistic to expect that you can partner with people that have a similar sized list to you. Once you start getting into subscriber numbers in the thousands then you have some real power and can enjoy exponential growth rates as you partner with people that own similarly sized lists.

    A joint venture is a complex beast and you always want to have your current customer’s in mind. Don’t turn your list into an joint venture advertising SPAM list. Take the time to find joint venture partners running fantastic businesses offering great products that you really believe your customers deserve to know about.

    In order to find venture partners you should think about the demographics of your customers and consider products and services they would use. As an example my business BetterEdit.com offers student essay editing  and thesis proofreading and our primary market is international students. A complimentary service to this market is international calling cards and I have done partnerships with websites that offer these products. You just need to do a little brainstorming to think of appropriate partners and once your list is built start emailing for joint ventures.

  5. Market Research. Are you considering launching a new product? Maybe you want to know what your clients think of your customer service? How about gathering statistics about your customer demographics to help with future marketing efforts? All these questions can be answered by sending a survey to your list. Perhaps you can offer incentives to fill out a survey such as discount vouchers, two-for-one deals or free samples. However you do it, your current list is a fantastic store of minable data just waiting to be accessed. Services like Survey Monkey give you the tools to create online surveys easily, which can be linked from or included in one of your broadcast emails to your list.

This is just a small sample of the techniques you can use to leverage your list. Best of all every tip I mentioned above is completely free, only requiring an investment of your time and energy. Of course the first step is to have a list, but once you start building the doors really start to open and you can never complain about lack of options when it comes to marketing.

Yaro Starak
List Marketer

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Audio: Buying And Selling Blogs With Michael Pollock From SavvySoloCast

Download PodcastDownload Part 1 MP3

Download Part 2 MP3

As you may know I purchased this blog from Michael Pollock (coverage here – Acquisition Of SmallBusinessBranding.com) and we sat down and recorded a podcast discussion about buying and selling blogs. Since we had just completed the transaction we were in the perfect mindset to discuss this topic and these podcasts should give you some good insights into the process behind blog trading.

Our conversation went for over an hour so we broke it down into two podcasts. You can find further details about it from SavvySoloCast where these episodes are hosted.

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