Posts Tagged ‘Small’

Four Free Resources For Small Business Advertising

One of the most difficult aspects of operating a small business is attempting to decrease your customer acquisition costs to improve profits and in many cases high acquisition costs are what prevent the business from being profitable at all. Most small businesses do not keep track of acquisition statistics so they are unsure of how much it costs for them to acquire each new customer. Without knowing this statistic, it is impossible to truly measure the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing.

One of the ways to help reduce acquisition costs is to use free advertising resources to increase your customer base. With these resources the primary cost is time, which for advertising is a relatively low price. Here are a few resources that small businesses should be taking advantage of to grow their customer base as it will definitely give you a competitive edge over your competition:

Craigslist - Craigslist.com is an online classified website that is free to post listings. Craigslists is one of the top 10 visited websites in the United States and can drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your business. Craigslist has a services section where local businesses can list the products and services that they offer for potential customers. Craigslist is organized by local geographies, therefore you have the potential to drive very local customers to your business. Total time to post an ad on Craigslist is probably about five minutes and will be less once you get the hang of it.

Google Base - Google Base is a free online classified that benefits from the large amounts of traffic generated by Google.com. A simple listing on Google Base can help to drive traffic to your website and although Google claims that it does not make a difference, it is a good bet that the more activity you have on the web properties, the better you will rank in their primary search engine.

Press Releases - The days of needing to be a professional writer to submit a press release are long gone. Now anyone that has knowledge of a product or service should submit press releases to media outlets and can be done easily with free resources. A couple of the sites that I recommend are prleap.com and prfree.com, but there are many others. These services submit your articles to the Associated Press which in many cases will be a distribution of 40,000 subscribers. If only a fraction of the subscribers pick up your article, you benefit. It first establishes you as an authority on the subject matter, but it also generates links back to your website which will increase your search engine rankings. The benefits of these free services can be massive in reducing your customer acquisition costs.

Merchant Circle - Merchantcircle.com is an online business directory that is focused on offering small business websites to promote their business. The main benefit of their service in my opinion is that their pages rank highly in the search engines, therefore, increase the ranking of your website in your local geographic ares. To set up you page only takes about ten minutes.

These are just a few examples of free resources that your business should be using. Think out of the box and do a little research to find out other free resources that will benefit your business. With only one new customer, this form of advertising pays for itself.

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Top 5 Tips For A Small Business Start-Up

Copyright (c) 2009 Dr Mark Yates

Economists are gracing our TV screens and newspapers proclaiming that the current economic downturn has finally bottomed out, and that we are about to turn the corner of the current credit crunch.

Irrespective of this opinion, in times of business hardship a great many opportunities for existing and aspiring business entrepreneurs manifest. The opportunity has never been greater for a small business start-up to grow exponentially.

Top 5 Tips For A Small Business Start-Up #1- Research Your Market

Business research has never been easier. Nowadays you can conduct most of your market and competitor research from the comfort of your own home or office computer. Online search engines are your best friends and although I advise caution as to complete accuracy of information, they do offer you a valuable insight.

Conduct a small business review. Identify your competitors and then use Google and other search engines to identify your competitors marketing campaigns and how much they are investing in targeting their online customers. Although online marketing doesn't include conventional marketing, it does offer a fantastic insight into your competitors business modus operandi.

Top 5 Tips For A Small Business Start-Up #2- Formulate A Strategic Business Growth Plan

Don't confuse a strategic business growth plan with a conventional business plan. A conventional business plan is generally required when you are looking for some kind of business finance, i.e. a bank loan or external investment. In reality most business owners park their business plan in a dusty cupboard never to be seen again after they have secured their finance. A strategic business growth plan is a much more pro-active working document that should form the foundation of your business growth. The initial foundation stone of this plan is a small business review ideally produced by a proven business growth consultant. This small business review can usually be produced quickly without spending a small fortune.

It should by definition include how you intend generating business, how you will take a share of your competitors business, how much you intend to turnover weekly, monthly and annually, how much your gross and net profits will be. It should also include financial forecasts and profit and loss data.

Two of the most critical issues to address when working with your strategic business growth plan are that;

1. The plan should include key performance indicators or KPI's as they are known in the business world.

2. The plan should be discussed and analysed by the MD or business owner weekly, followed up by a much more in-depth discussion which should take place every month with the MD, owner, directors, partners, shareholders, investors and senior managers to ensure the KPI's are being met.

On the basis that very few Small Business Start-Up will have such a corporate hierarchy, you should rely on external or outsourced business support partners to assist. (See top tips for a small business start-up #3 for further information on the right business partners.)

Top 5 Tips For A Small Business Start-Up #3- Find The Right Business Partners

A small business start-up generally lacks the expertise and resources that a medium or large business usually maintains. This means that for the managing director owner of a small business start-up, he or she occupies the loneliest position in the entire business world. It is for this reason that I advise retaining the right business partners. Initially you should appoint a proven business consultant, don't be confused into thinking this business consultant has to specialise in your particular type of business. Although there are a few business consultants who do specialise in one particular type of business, a very high percentage of business consultants are classed as business generalists.

Obviously if your research identifies a business consultant who specialises in your industry, then that's a bonus. However I advise that it is more important to appoint a proven business growth specialist as the first of your right business partners. If you appoint a proven growth specialist then he or she will have extensive contacts who can step in and out of your business as and when required without you having to pay full time salaries and executive benefit packages. Your business consultant will want to produce a small business package and a small business guide designed to encourage other business heavy weights to join your business on a part time retainer basis. Investing the time and money to produce this small business package and small business guide will provide far more value than cost.

Effectively your right business partners will be your very own part time low cost board of directors, an asset that many small business start-ups fail to capitalise on.

Top 5 Tips For A Small Business Start-Up #4- Never Step In The Ring Unless You Can Win

Never step in the ring unless you can win is based on the premise of having adequate financial resources. If you enter the business arena as a small business start-up without sufficient funds to get you through the first 12 to 18 months, you will seriously struggle to achieve business success and long term business sustainability. This is one of the main reasons why such a very high percentage of UK small businesses fail within the first 12 months. Appointing your right business partner i.e. a business growth consultant should bring an external source of financial expertise into your business on an as and when required contractual basis. Cash flow is key to any small business start-up for achieving good annual turnover and great profit margins.

Top 5 Tips For A Small Business Start-Up #5- Attack The Market

You've formed your own small business start-up, appointed your right business partners now you need to attack the market. Proactive business thinking will always lead to greater annual turnover and a healthy profit ratio. When I say attack the market, I am not being melodramatic. Business, real business is a war, and most wars are won before a battle commences. Being reactive in business will not win the war. Reactive business owners are destined to a live of mediocre business gains.

I only advocate attacking the market when you have integrated the first 4 of the top 5 tips for a small business start-up.

Implementing these top 5 tips for a small business start-up will give you a definitive edge over your counterparts who are also starting their own new business.

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Small Business Internet Marketing: Getting Found On The World Wide Web

Small business Internet marketing can seem like a labyrinth to a small business owner new to the term. There is so much information available--much of it conflicting--that it's easy to get lost and begin to suffer from information overload.

Here are a few ways small business owners can get started marketing their business on line.

* Blogging. A blog is simply a website which is frequently updated. While blogs used to be considered more personal, and resembled on line diaries more than websites, recently businesses have been starting to blog as a way of staying in contact with their customers. Even better than that, Google loves a blog. The more you update your site, the more the Google bots will visit, and the more the Google bots visit, the better chance you have of getting your business's site found.

* SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a huge topic. SEO simply means setting up your site to be friendly to the search engines by giving them the information they need in the places they expect to find it. Using title tags and meta description tags, clearly defining your keywords, and getting other sites to link back to your site are all a part of basic SEO.

* Pay Per Click. Pay per click is a form of advertising where the advertiser buys space through an auction style system, and only pays when someone clicks on their ad. The results that you see at the very top of a search results page in Google are often pay per click ads, as are the smaller (and more obvious) ads off to the right of the page. Pay per click is very efficient at driving traffic to your site, but can be risky as well. You'd do well to hire a specialist in this area rather than plunge in by yourself.

* Article marketing. Whether you're in the business of selling flowers or washing machines, chances are you have knowledge that someone wants. By giving this knowledge away on sites like EzineArticles.com or GoArticles.com in exchange for a link or two back to your site, you can gain greater exposure for your business, and bring visitors in who would otherwise never have noticed you.

* Social Networking. Social networking is word of mouth advertising for the digital age. Instead of Aunt Suzy calling up Cousin Ida to ask who she hired to install the new windows, @AuntSuzy is posting questions about window installs on Twitter and Facebook. If your business is installing windows you'd be well advised to monitor those Twitter conversations. Help out @AuntSuzy with 140 characters of advice about choosing windows and who do you think she'll be recommending to her friends when they need windows?

* Forum posting. Forums are just another form of social networking, except the conversation is generally more focused around a particular topic. No matter what business you're in, there is a forum dedicated to it. Search Google for your topic +Forum and you'll find them. Get registered, start conversing, and as your reputation grows so will your business.

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Cheap yet Effective Small Business Marketing Strategy

Are you a newbie in the online market and wanted to promote your small business? There are actually many small business marketing strategy that you can implement and target your market using them. But before you go about the process, the one thing that you need to consider is your budget. Are you ready to invest good-sized money to do all the small business marketing strategy? For beginners, this is really intimidating, especially to those who are not knowledgeable about the internet marketing “technology”. But don’t get frustrated because with a little help from the experts, which they call themselves internet marketing gurus, you can fuel your small business marketing strategy and get the results you need for your small business online.

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