Archives for December 2009

How Was Your Year?

0910Whew! I guess we made it through the year. Looking back at 2009, were any of your fears realized? Was your apprehension worse than your reality? I have to admit I came through it with barely a scratch. (maybe a few bumps and bruises) Every new year presents unique challenges. The one main strategy I employ is positive energy. When new challenges present themselves, I try to make them into opportunities. If a lose a piece of business to competition, my attitude is that they will come over at some later date – stay focused on the bigger picture.

What have you put into place over the past year that strengthens your brand? One thing about a poor economy is that it provides us with the motivation to refine our operations and in some cases re-define who we are. New revenue streams may emerge from the lessons we have learned.

Going forward, your job is to get the word out there about your business. Use the web as much as you can to push you brand and expert profile. Build an opt-in email database and use it as your own personal market. Don’t view the web from a traditional marketing stand point – that is, run an ad, wait for a response. Discover ways to engage leads, customers and past-customers in stronger relationships with your business.

Ignore the financial shows on CNN and other media. They get better ratings when times “seem” desperate. Look at Glenn Beck for instance: preaching doom and gloom through his shows and books all the while endorsing Goldline (a gold selling service). Gold benefits from a horrible economy. Talk about a self-serving philosophy – I used to admire him a bit, now he’s just another charlatan in my view. Shame.

I suggest taking the yang from Beck’s ying, and generate an atmosphere of positive energy. Surround yourself with positive entrepreneurs and look for ways to raise the bar of your business and make 2010 your best year ever. You’re already working hard, so take that fabulous effort and direct it to additional initiatives that will differentiate your brand allowing you to “lead not follow”.

Merry Christmas! A Special Gift For You No Strings, Hoops, Or Opt-Ins Attached :)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas to you and your family! I wanted to share this free report on traffic to help you in the New Year. I hope you enjoy it.  Over and out until after Boxing Day…. and if you see me around on twitter feel free to nudge me and tell me to stop working. I’ve officially been dubbed by Ed that I’m a slave driver. 🙂  So…with that said, I plan to relax at least for a couple of days.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

What You Can Do To Solve Tech Issues On Your Own

Unlike larger businesses, most of us are solo entrepreneurs. Which means, we wear many hats throughout the day. Some of us outsource a chunk of that work so we can concentrate on the things we are good at and that is very smart indeed. Trouble is, no matter how large or small your company is, we all have limited budgets or at times, limited people who can work on an issue for us. In order to get things moving we can either hold till those resources are available or attempt to move it along by finding solutions ourselves.SOS

If you do not have a technical person to call upon or have very limited resources to hire help, here’s what you can do.

  • Search the support forum. Many software paid or free, have user community forums where you can get help from. In some communities, help can come faster than the official support because of a strong and loyal user base.
  • Copy and paste the error verbatim into Google or your favorite search engine. That’s how I find my solutions (and learned new things).
  • Look it up on Youtube. Youtube is not just for laughs. There’s a ton of how to material there and this is a great option for those who learn better by visual walk throughs. While you are there, swing by the TechBasedMarketing channel for quick and easy how-to’s to common web tech questions.
  • Ask your followers. You’ll be surprised how many smart people are among your social network and customers.
  • Ask in relevant forums. Some entrepreneur forums have special sections for tech questions and help.
  • Bring your questions and issues to our live helpdesk. Every Thursday night at 9 PM U.S. Eastern time, I hold a helpdesk ‘open house’ where we take questions and help people through Internet business tech issues. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook Page to receive instructions how to join me.

photo credit: fRandi-Shooters

A Great Brand Booster! Easy Tips Anyone Can Use To Gain More People To Your Site

Booster CablesI hope today finds you well. 🙂 We’re looking forward to Christmas ourselves, this time last year we were sitting in the hospital so there is tons to be thankful for!

I just wanted to pop by and let you know that I’m putting together a new report and I’d love to showcase your business inside.

I’m creating a “get traffic” guide because we all need more traffic to our sites, that’s a given. 🙂

So I thought we could pool our tips together into one nice package and get as many people as we can involved.

Don’t feel you have to be a traffic expert to get involved, I just want to hear what you did this year to increase traffic to your site and I’ll feature your tip inside the report, along with your Name and website address.

This will be a nice viral way for you to also develop awareness to your business, brand, and traffic back to your site.. just from this report. 🙂

I’d like to offer it as a Christmas gift to all readers at SBB so I’m looking forward to working with you.

Just send your tips to vera(@)smallbusinessbranding.com.  I can’t wait!

Vera Raposo
(Currently enjoying an old Christmas Movie)

PS. This is for everyone, not just “business type” sites. Sometimes the best ideas come from people in the non-business world.

“Our People Make The Difference” Is Not A Differentiator

Frankly – you’re greater than that!

brandleaderIn my Brand Consulting side of things, “Our people make the difference” is the by far the most common answer to my question – “Exactly what is it that makes you different from your competition?” Let’s be honest every company’s employee pool has talent and they do a great job making their products great. You have to dig deeper and pull out something more compelling that makes you the leader. You’ve got to be the first to market with this powerful position and you have to deliver it is such a way that your target audience see’s your company as the only alternative.

Simple eh?

The fact is we can achieve this goal is several different ways. We can look long and hard and see how the delivery of the product can be facilitated whereby the client experience’s is an overwhelming difference from how it is typically delivered within your industry. Let’s say you are a burger joint. EVERYBODY follows the McDonald’s standard of a graphic menu board above and behind the counter. Is there another way that is bolder, better and ground-breaking? Look at your burger joint from a new perspective.

What if your product is a medical service? Lot’s of compliances right? Sure the public has to be safe. Well what if you went one better? What if you developed your own compliance? Name it and promote it as your own. Make sure that it’s progressive and bold. So bold that the competition probably thinks your crazy to adhere to it. Crazy genius I’m thinking.

I call these solutions Positioning Strategies and most companies don’t employ them. Most companies employ slogans. When was the last time a slogan compelled you to act? I’ll bet your thinking hard about that aren’t you? Remember when the iPhone came out? It was the only smart phone offering “apps”. That and the touch screen quickly made it a leading contender in what seemed a saturated cell phone market. A compelling reason to buy, actually created a brand-new category. This is not beyond what you are also capable of. You don’t need Apple’s deep pockets either – you only need the innovation of Apple’s entrepreneurial spirit.

In my consulting service I get the best results from decisive and bold thinkers. If this is you, then you are sitting on just what it takes to deliver a positioning strategy that not only compels your target audience but will re-invigorate your staff and other stake holders.

The only person that can truly make a difference is YOU – if you are willing to grab the gold within you.

Promotions You Can Use This Christmas Season

Did you realize that Christmas is almost here… just walk to your local mall and everything is a buzz.  Recently my husband and I had to make a trip to the mall to get some items the kids needed for school, I was surprised to see Walmart open for 24 hours already! I thought they were only doing that the last week before Christmas, but as you can guess they probably make a ton more money when they open that much. Obviously, or they wouldn`t do it. Thinking about all of this, I put together an article for you on product promotion strategies you can use online to get your business a buzz, also open 24 hours because it`ll be on the internet. 🙂

When it comes to promoting a product there are definitely tools and tactics that work best. Much of the success of these tools will depend on when in the promotion cycle they’re implemented, the type of product and of course your target audience. Assuming you’re marketing to an opt-in list, here are a few suggestions for perfect product promotion strategies.

E-mailMake sure you’re not over promoting in your email communications

Email communications, like ezines and newsletters, are meant to be informative first and promotional second. That doesn’t mean you can’t promote in them, but it’s important to keep it to a minimum. A general rule of thumb, and this is by no means a hard and fast rule, is to make sure at least 80% of your content is valuable and informative.

How to articles, reviews, case studies and so on are great ways to provide value to your opt-in list. The other 20% can be promotional content. This can be an advertisement, links within your content, banner advertisements, promotional message at the bottom of your content and so on. Test and track to find the best mix and strategy for your audience.

Make sure your content is valuable and beneficial

One excellent strategy to provide 100% valuable content to your audience without any hard sell is to provide a review of the product you’re promoting. Reviews, particularly if they’re written in an unbiased tone, give your reader insight to a product. A well-written review will summarize the product’s purpose, highlight the strong points, perhaps tell a story about your experience with the product and then list a drawback or two.

The drawbacks can be written to sound benign or like strengths – much like you would do in an interview when the interviewer asks for you to tell them about your weaknesses. You turn your weaknesses into strengths. Then a quick sentence or two summary and of course a link to the product and voila, you have a great review (and promotional material for your product).

Make sure you’re not promoting all of the time

While your opt-in list expects and accepts that you will be promoting your business products and services, they don’t want to be inundated with promotions all the time. Time your promotional content right so that it coincides with launches, special promotions and even the holidays.

Your subscribers have come to expect the best from you, and product promotions are going to be held up to the same high standards. Treat them with respect, continually offer value and time your promotions well, and you’ll be on the road to more profits and a growing subscriber list.

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