Blogging as Part of Your Marketing Strategy

1. Research

One of the most important things you can do before you start a business blog is research whether your customers and audience actually want one. It’s all well and good saying, “Well, our competition has a blog – we should too!”. But that’s just setting yourself up for failure.

Look at your customer base; are they the kind that read blogs? Are they mobile-led (which would suggest a blog-friendly audience)? Are they computer-literate?

A slaughterhouse in Moldova is probably not going to need a blog; a hospitality industry business probably should have one. Ask your customers if they’d be interested in a blog – a questionnaire, an email, when they’re in your store, etc.

Having a ready audience will immediately increase your chances of having a decent corporate blog.

2. Strategy

Just as important as the research angle is the strategy one. If you launch a business blog and you don’t have defined goals with it, you’re just wasting valuable time and resources in maintaining it.

Will it be for lead generation? Will it be to promote your business’ thought leadership? Is it to handle service questions, or give the latest news on product or company updates? Is it to get to know your customers better and what makes them tick?

Have a solid strategy in place on what you want to achieve, and how you wish to achieve it. Then set timelines in place to measure how you’re doing, and adapt accordingly.

You wouldn’t go into business with a clear goal and plan – why would you do anything different with another angle of your business?

3. Consistency

If there’s one thing that blog readers hate, it’s inconsistency. This can be across multiple areas – publishing posts, comment systems (yes, I’m guilty of this one!), voice, editorial, writers and more.

And there’s a simple reason for this – there are currently between 180 and 200 million blogs out there, and reader interest is becoming shorter and shorter as publications vie for eyeballs. So if you’re confusing your reader with ever-changing positions on your blog, they’ll more often than not decide it’s not worth hanging around.

If you want to keep your readers and grow your blog, be consistent.
If you’re going to post once a week, make it the same day and the same time of day. If you’re going to post 2-3 times a week, keep it the same days.
If you’re going to be primarily a text blog, remain that way. If you’re going to be a video-led blog, be that blog. You can mix things up now and again, but keep the prime focus the one you set up yourself up as.
Keep the tone consistent. if you’re going to be a serious blog, remain in a serious tone. If you’re looking to show the fun side of your business, highlight that with pictures and a lighter tone. If you keep to the goals you set out with, and the way you set out reaching them, it’ll cause less confusion and encourage readers to stay with you.

4. Measurement

One of my biggest bugbears is when I speak with business owners and ask them about analytics and measurement, and how they’re tracking their success based on their goals, and they reply with a blank stare and an, “Uh….” soundbite.

If you’re not tracking your activity, how do you expect to know if you’re succeeding; where you’re succeeding; where you need to adapt and more?

The best of it is, you can track all this stuff for free (with the exception of cost of man hours to do so).

More Investing In Their Own Small Businesses

Nearly half (47%) of small business owners prefer to invest in their business now to get an advantage over competitors, an 11 percent increase from 2010, according to a new survey released from Brother.

Last year’s survey revealed that the majority preferred stockpiling cash reserves as a means to help them survive the economic downturn.

“Our survey is one way we keep a finger on the pulse of our key market segment, America’s small business owners, and it provides us with true insight into their needs and struggles," said John Wandishin, vice president of marketing, Brother International.

"We want to understand what small business owners value, so we can continue to provide solutions for their daily challenges."

More and more small business owners are seeing the value of investing in their business—with both time and money. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of small business owners said they would rather have more time on their calendars than cash in their pockets. Time management was also a common theme throughout the results. Three-quarters (79 percent) said they plan to use their time more efficiently in 2011.

When asked what the biggest benefits of being a small business owner were, majorities cited the ability to quickly respond to customer service issues (84 percent) and the ability to quickly implement executive decisions about managing the business (83 percent).

Many small business owners have experienced some type of "Tech Downtime": three-quarters (77 percent) of owners say they have seen productivity suffer—at least occasionally—in the last year due to office technology not working properly.

"When running a small business, time is the ultimate commodity," said Wandishin. "Small business owners are looking for reliable equipment and services that help them save time running their business.”

Research by Mike Sachoff


7 Most Important Online Marketing Tactics for Any Small Business

Building an effective online presence these days has moved beyond the realm of the occasional event and into the daily routine of the marketing department. It doesn't matter if it's just you, as opposed to the traditional definition of department, online marketing must become a habit that's practiced daily.

Now, I also recognize that there are many things calling for your daily attention. And, for some folks, the new set of online actions simply represents more to do with each passing day.

It's import therefor to focus on the highest payoff activities to maximize the return on time spent.

Below are what I believe are the most important online marketing tactics for any small business. Focus on these actions before trying the chase this week's new, new thing.

1. Research and revisit a catalog of keyword topics

Your entire content strategy should be informed by a catalog of themes and topics you visit and revisit in a predictable manner. You must commit to researching a core set of keyword phrases and topics and building an editorial calendar that helps you stay focused on your core "chapters" of content.

2. Produce content people will share

Once you've developed a plan for the topics you intend to cover on a frequent basis, you must learn how to produce content that people want to share. This, of course, differs for every industry, but there are proven techniques that can help start the sharing engine.

The most important element is value. Value is generally found in showing people how to do something they want to do, where to find resources that can make their life easier and providing insight into an industry challenge or trend. It's no secret that list posts, such as this one, draw more attention and shares. Also, consider using video, audio and striking images as part of the content mix.

3. Use social networks to enhance email and attract links

Turn to social networks as a way to create awareness for your content and network for links. Share other people's content as a way to increase value and attract links. Amplify your best content as a way to build your email list.

To me this is the immediate payoff for social network participation. It's not about thinking of clever things to say, it's about creating pathways to sharing that goes back and forth. Social media will always pay if you view it in this light.

4. Claim vast amounts of real estate

Go out there and build your Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, even if you have no time or plan to build large followings. Create YouTube, Slideshare and Picassa profiles. Claim and enhance your Google+Local, Yahoo and Bing Local profiles.

This free real estate will help you start to build depth to your presence, attract a few links and populate search results for your company name as you work to build a library of content and links from other sources.

5. Drive leads to landing pages

You must embrace the use of landing pages for all of you advertising, email marketing and social outreach. House your free content and promotional offers on highly optimized landing pages and use these pages to capture targeted leads and start the education and conversion process over and over.

6. Split test as much as you can

Testing is often an after thought and that's a shame. Businesses that get in the habit of testing everything, right from the beginning, have such a competitive advantage over those that leave everything to chance.

Little tweaks to images, headlines and call to action buttons can create massive swings in conversion, but only if you test one against another to see the results of a change.

When you start to spend money on driving people to landing pages this is the make it or break it tactic that winners employ.

7. Use funnels to measure and drive conversion

I am a very big advocate of moving prospects along a series of commitments or steps on a path to educating, building trust and ultimately getting a sale.

Online this is accomplished by combining landing pages, offers, email marketing and follow-up to build on each stage.

Google Analytics allows you to build funnels that match your paths and score and analyze each phase of the funnel so that you can understand not only the impact of each element, but your entire conversion system.

Yes, I know, there's more to do than you can possibly get done, so focus on the highest payoff tactics and what you do get done with produce greater results.

Contributed by John Jantsch

More about John:

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, award winning social media publisher and author Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine. He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world.


Why Speed of Resolution Over Speed of Response is Key to Social Media Success

Last week, Jay Baer wrote a post about how brands are responding on social media. Jay’s premise was that companies that can respond withing minutes on the social sphere are sending out a far more positive message than those that dilly-dally.

It’s a really interesting read, and the comments after the post sparked a great debate about Jay’s premise, and if we weren’t setting companies up to fail by jumping to action as soon as their name is mentioned.

One of the conversations sparked the agreement that speed of response may not be the real discussion; instead, it’s speed of resolution that will really define how successful a company is in social media (or any other business medium).

And never a truer word has been spoken. Here’s why.
The Problem With Speed of Response

In an ideal world, we (as consumers) would have answers to our questions almost as soon as we’ve asked them. If we have a problem with a product, it’ll be resolved immediately. Or we have a complaint – it’ll be heard and acted upon quicker than you can say, “Sorry, sir/miss/madam, we’ll get onto that right away.”

But the desire for that kind of brand interaction falls short of the realistic one, for several reasons.
Legal red tape. You’d think that a simple, “We’re sorry you feel that way, and we’ll look into this for you” would suffice as an acceptable way to cover a customer issue. And it should be. The problem is, if it’s an issue that involves legal counsel, everything has to be approved. Everything. Even a simple “We hear you”. Because if a multi-million dollar lawsuit is the potential outcome (especially involving a pharmaceutical company, for example), then the company better make damn sure everything is documented and carried out to the letter of the law.
Locale and culture differences. Say you’re a consumer in Canada, but the main team you need to speak to is in China. So there’s a time difference to start with. There are also different cultural holidays; so response times are immediately affected.
The issue of scale. Sure, we’d all like to think our companies (either own, employed or those we buy from) are the biggest on the market, so we should expect a 24/7 every-minute-of-the-day personalization level. But that’s never going to happen. There are only so many people a business can employ and still make a profit, while allocating the right resources to customer care and crisis communications. Timescales will always be governed by numbers (both manpower and financial).

There are more reasons why the speed of response isn’t necessarily a core ingredient to a business’s success; but these three are the most common starting points. And ones that dovetail nicely into…
The Preferred Option of Speed of Resolution

Generally, consumers are smart people. We understand businesses have other customers, and that sometimes we’re maybe making a bigger deal of something than it deserves.

Yes, we’re also antsy assholes at times – but, generally, we offer leeway when we feel we’re being listened to. And “listened to” isn’t the same as “hearing”.

A company might hear me, and offer a speedy pat response, just to show that they’re listening and responding to social media standards. The problem is, a pat response shows why being heard is completely different from being listened to – nothing is usally fixed. The same issues that were there before are still there now.

However – switch that around and listen to my problem and resolve it within an acceptable timeframe? That’s far more benefecial to me than giving me faux customer love.

But that still leaves the response time issue, no? Not necessarily.

If you’re a brand, make it clear on every single customer touchpoint what your practice is for issues and queries:
Standard customer service issues will have a response within 24 hours.
Identified escalated issues will have a response within 12 hours.
Emergency issues or concerns that have health implications will have a response within the hour.

Make it clear too, that a respone is not the same as a resolution. Offer timescales for internal procedures to let customers know that, to get the answer they need to really resolve the issue, the process is X departments and Y amount of days, to get to Z resolution options.

Also, make it very clear that you’re monitoring countless hundreds (if not thousands) of conversations around your customer base, and that sometimes a query or question may be missed. In that case, have an easy contact option on your business website where customers can follow the same process as social media questions, but accept that the time to reply will be dictated by submission time.
We Don’t Need You To Be Fast – Just Right

Ask the majority of customers what they prefer from the two – a speedy response, or a speedy resolution, and more times than not you’ll get the latter as the preferred choice.

It’s why customers will wait in line at the Apple Genius Bar, as opposed to going to the local computer store – they know the longer waiting time means a quality service where they’ll get their problem sorted first time, as opposed to a quick buck band-aid that leads to even more issues down the line.

While not every company can be an Apple, most consumers will prefer service like an Apple customer. And speed of response has never been Apple’s modus operandi.

Maybe that’s something we can all learn from, businesses and consumers…


Strong momentum continues to lead the listed property sector

Strong momentum continues to lead the listed property sector higher in 2012, which was very similar to what happened towards the end of 2011. Excluding the international linked stocks like RIN, Nepi and MAS, the sector’s market capitalisation recently came within R1bn of being R200bn in size, led by share price performance, new listings and secondary equity issuances.

Listed property has been following bond yields very closely. Despite the weaker rand and subsequent increase in yields recently, SA bonds remain strong, largely taking their lead from the downward trend in US bond yields. The rolling 10 yr bond yield has still decreased by 39bps from the end of June despite a 35bps increase from its recent lows. The potential of an interest rate cut continues to be priced into the shorter end of the yield curve. Inflation expectations seem to be less bearish than earlier this year while dovish statements by the Reserve Bank point to likely interest rate
intervention if the economic and financial market signals out of Europe deteriorate further. This is leading to stronger
trading volumes within the sector, with momentum again closing in on that of 1Q12, which was very strong. Another recent boost for the sector was probably a renewed focus on potential corporate action with some potential bid premiums being priced into stocks which the market may view as potential take over targets. All of these pushed the sector to delivering a total return of 12% since the end of June, resulting in a total return since the start of the year of close to 34%, thereby strongly outperforming both equities and bonds.

August usually provides a good barometer of where we are in the property cycle as 60% of the sector’s market capitalisation is involved in reporting. The sector delivered a weighted average distribution growth of 5.9%. Trends captured within the results, which remain fairly similar to what we’ve experienced earlier this year, include stabilizing and even improving vacancies while reversions on existing tenants are mostly positive, but focus on total occupancy cost for tenants remain key driver on how much is tolerable. Landlords however need to take big rental cuts to get new tenants to commit in all three sectors. A-grade office vacancies continue to improve while B-grade vacancies are stabilising, but demand for this space is still weak. There is little scope for further value to be extracted from filling strong retail centres and overall industrial vacancies while large capital spend is necessary to reposition weaker centres
and industrial mini and midi units for tenanting. Operating cost ratios are stabilising and even improving with an increased focus on electricity and water efficiencies. With overall tenant retention ratios improving less pressure is
being placed on operating cost ratios from higher lease commissions and incentives to get space filled while bad debts and arrears are improving.

As usual the property companies continue to recycle capital into new assets. What is evident is the increased appetite for speculative developments, some of it through land banking while projects in the ground already are mostly industrial (logistic and distribution linked within park like environments) and office (in vicinity of Gautrain stations) driven. Funding margins are favourable for development projects being part equity part capital market funded and it seems that at least 150bps – 200bps margin on development yields vs. funding costs are achievable. The capital investment of some of the more recent listings within the sector continues (rural, township and commuter retail remain firmly on the radar screen with yields being paid moving into the 8% levels), which is also going hand in hand with equity issuances. Larger funds are utilising the opportunity to clean up their portfolios, leading to some churn within the sector. Africa ex South Africa is coming more into play with many companies looking to gain a foothold into the continent some or other way

With the sector running so hard over the last year it remains difficult to predict what will happen going forward. The strong correlation with bond yields points to how the fortunes of the sector will in all likelihood be very closely tied with that of the bond market. Although inflationary risks remain within the system, South African bond yields continue to trade more in line with global bond markets, which remain at low yields. I expect the sector to lose a bit of steam and move back into a narrower yield gap band. However, if interest rates remain at current levels for longer the sector should still have some level of support from yield seeking investors.

Building the Better Entrepreneur


Twitter Infographic

Infographics seem to be a hot trend among internet and online marketers. An infographic is simply a graphic representation of information, date, knowledge, processes, etc. And while they may seem to be a new tool to communicate, they have been around since the first caveman decided to practice graffiti on the walls of his cave.

Since 1980′s USA Today has used mini infographics to present data in quick, easy to digest manner. With the emergence of social media they seem to have hit a resurgence, moving from the simple USA Today model to more complex, visual representations of data.

If a picture is worth a thousand words than an infographic may be worth a million or more.

Yesterday as I was writing a new blog post about a new Twitter tool I discovered I decided that it would be cool to maybe add a Twitter infographic to the post. Eight hours of work later I decided that the infographic was strong enough to stand on its own and better the focus of its own post. I’ll post next week on the tool that I found that analyzes your followers to show you the best times for you to tweet, but for now I offer my Twitter infographic.

The who, why and how of Twitter

In the world of the web where we're inundated with tons of text, infographics can be such a refreshing way to absorb new information. 

I've noticed there have been some truly awesome new Twitter infographics out there lately, so I wanted to share them with all you marketing folks.

via Hubspot


Quick Management Tip of the Day: Ways to stop procrastination

If you are stuck in a cycle of procrastination, don't despair - a few simple steps can help you break out of the malaise, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and ( Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by or Reuters.

"Procrastination may feel like the human condition, but it doesn't have to. To get out of your own way and increase your productivity, try these three tactics:

1. Set deadlines. Create a schedule with clear due dates for each task. Remind yourself by using visual cues: Set reminders in your calendar, add items to your to-do list, or put a sticky note on your computer screen.

2. Ask for help. Ask a trusted colleague to review your work. Knowing that she's expecting it can spur you to get started.

3. Change your mind-set. Stop thinking of yourself as a procrastinator. See yourself — and talk about yourself with others — as someone who gets things done."

- Today's management tip was adapted from "The Guide to Getting the Right Work Done."

4 tips: The business breakthrough you deserve

I have a very important question for you today – something that could provide you with the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.

It’s simply this: ‘Are you playing follow the followers, without knowing it?’

Follow the followers, is like follow the leader, except almost everyone is doing the same thing. When applied to marketing, follow the followers is what we see with literally (and I mean literally, not figuratively) 99% or more of small businesses.

Following the followers

Online and offline, almost every small business I see is copying what their competitors do, in order to win more clients or customers. The thing is, each business owner in that follower chain is equally lost. They see others doing something to promote their business and assume that MUST be the way to do it. In fact, it isn’t. It’s the way not to do it.


Because every time you copy a competitor, you risk being stung by one, usually both, of the following:

You risk copying something that is totally ineffective. You have no way of knowing if what you’re copying is generating results. You also don’t know if the approach would work for you, even if it was working for a competitor. You’re copying just the visible part of their marketing, which is a tiny snapshot.

You risk making yourself invisible, by looking just like your competitors. You drift into the background, by using the same ideas as everyone else. A way to know if you’re already doing this, is if you regularly find prospective clients to be fee-sensitive. With nothing else to tell you apart from your similar sounding competitors, prospective clients use fees as a way to determine value. You need to work on this immediately, if this is the case. There’s more on how I can help you, at the end of this post. We are currently working in the worst economy in living memory. The marketplace is tough and there are no signs that things will go back to the so-called ‘good old days’ of pre 2007. Playing follow the followers was ineffective even when the economy was booming. Those businesses still went bust or just managed to stay afloat. Today, it’s commercial insanity.

Don’t follow the followers

Your prospective clients or customers are still there and they still have money to spend, though they do a lot more research now.

The question is, how serious are you about doing what’s required, in order to break free from looking just like your competitors?

Totally committed to doing all the comfortable stuff

Every business owner reading this, will say they are totally committed to doing what’s required, yet just a handful will act on the information. The rest will carry on, copying the same generic approach, because it’s easy. It’s comfortable.

Yes, all small business owners claim to put 100% into their business, however, what most of them really mean is that they will work hard, BUT only do 100% of the things they are comfortable with. The thing is, success lives outside that comfort zone. That’s why success is so rare.

For those with the courage to do what’s required

For those who are committed to doing what’s required, it’s time to learn how to do the right things correctly or find someone who can show you exactly what you need to do.

A good way to find expert marketing help you can trust, is to ask your friends and successful business contacts, which marketing professional they use and whether they would recommend them to you.



Not Having a Blog Is Not An Option

If your business doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t have a chance. And, I’m not even talking about a professionally designed and optimized one. If you don’t have even a basic website up and running these days, your prospective customers and clients are going to have a hard time seeing you as being relevant.

And, if you don’t have a blog attached to your website, those same prospective customers and clients aren’t going to have a chance to learn about your expertise, and about the human side of your business.


That’s how many blogs there are (in the world) at the time of this writing.

And, those are only WordPress blogs. There are millions of other blogs that are on other blogging platforms like Typepad, Drupal and Tumblr.

Now, you can let that number motivate you, or you can let it freak you out-it’s your choice. (Personally, I hope that it gets you motivated to get a blog up and running right now.)

Blog Benefits


Your visibility-especially online, will increase with a blog. The more you write, the better the chances are that you’ll get noticed. And, not just by your potential customers/clients. Reporters, writers, and PR people read blogs too.


Search engines love fresh, new content. Search-engine spiders-those little robots that are scouring the web, 24/7, get energized when they locate something new…especially if it’s closely related to the words that are being searched by your customers/clients.

Active blogs…ones that have at least 1-2 original posts published weekly, provide that fresh, new content that search engines crave, which in turn, can increase your company’s chances of being found online by your target audience.


You need some. If you don’t come across as being a credible source of information, your customers are going to have a difficult time opening their wallets up to you…your business.

A great way to show just how much you know is to write about it. These days, there’s no better way to do it, then on a blog. (It doesn’t even have to be done on your own blog. See #4.)

New opportunities

Once you’ve been writing posts-articles of your own on your own blog for a while, you can start approaching others in your industry, or even a related one, and write a blog post for them. (A guest post)

Writing an article on someone else’s blog can provide you an opportunity to showcase your knowledge to an entirely new reader base. (And, possible new business opportunities and/or strategic partnerships.)

Just make sure that your post is informational and helpful in nature-not promotional. (You’ll get an opportunity to promote yourself-your company at the end of your post, along with a link to your website or blog*.)

Keeps your head in the game

There’s something to be said for writing your thoughts down, as opposed to verbalizing them or keeping them in your head.

You know things that others don’t. Why would you want to keep those things inside of you?

Do you have an idea that potential customers/clients can put to good use right away? Share it through a blog post. Do you have some opinions about your industry…and what needs to be changed to make it even better? Consider sharing those opinions on your blog. (Only if you’re comfortable doing so.)

Having an active blog keeps your head in the game-your game…your industry.

You want some more? Check out these 9 hidden benefits of blogging.

Thousands of articles…blog posts…have been written over the years on the importance of having a blog. If you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?

No more excuses

If you don’t consider yourself to be tech-savvy, have no fear. There are literally thousands of talented designers and programmers that can help you set-up your blog. It’s not expensive either, so scratch that one off your list of excuses of why you can’t do this right now.

If you haven’t written anything of substance for a while, don’t sweat it-I have a solution. Start a blog, and start writing. You’ll get better. Just keep writing.

And, if you think that no one will read it, you’re just plain wrong. Do you have any friends? Ask them to read your blog. Do you have employees? Do the same with them, and ask others in your industry to read it, too. Add a link to your blog on your main website. Do you have a LinkedIn account? Add a link there, too. Think of some other places that you can include a link to your new blog. And, before you know it, you’ll have a handful of readers.

That’s all you need at the beginning.

The more you write the more interest you’ll garner. Your early readers will start to share your posts with others. They may start reading your blog…they may even subscribe for free to receive your newest blog posts.

Have I succeeded in convincing you to start a blog?

Source:  John Jantsch


More followers and likes or better quality?

Whether they know it or not, the vast majority of people reading this message are currently making it impossible for themselves to win.

Allow me to explain, by asking you a few questions:

  • When will you have enough Twitter followers, Facebook fans or Linkedin contacts?
  • When will you have enough blog readers?
  • When will you have enough newsletter subscribers?
A race we can’t finish, let alone win!

Most people know they want more followers, fans, readers and subscribers, but that’s it. As such, they have entered into a game, where it’s both impossible to finish and impossible to win.

Here’s the thing: Being part of a game we can’t possibly win, negatively impacts how we feel about ourselves and our work.

Playing this unwinnable game also causes good people to act in a way they are not proud of. It encourages them to spam us with requests to follow them, ‘like’ them or subscribe to them. It causes them to get angry, when we unfollow them or unsubscribe.

As a consequence, they damage their reputation; as clients, prospective clients and contacts start thinking of them as being needy.

An alternative focus

Why not forget about building those numbers and focus on building value, instead? Let’s aim for progress rather than movement. Let’s avoid following the masses, who confuse activity with productivity. Let’s set ourselves up to win every day, by:

  • Being as useful as we can be, every day.
  • Building someone up with our encouragement, every day.
  • Sharing something of value with people, every day.
  • Learning something new, every day.

This approach leaves the marketplace feeling better about who we are and what we do. More importantly, it makes US feel better about it too!

So, what do you think?

businessnewz - Jim Connolly

How to turn fear into a valuable asset for your business

If any business owner ponders that question for long enough, they will see that it presents them with 2 extremely valuable pieces of information:

You will uncover an idea, which demonstrates just how BIG you are capable of thinking.

You will also uncover the thing that’s stopping you from achieving that BIG,inspirational goal.

We already know how to think big. Plus, we have access to more collective intelligence and better tools than ever before. So, the answers we need have never been easier to find.

It’s the fear of failure that stops us becoming the best we can be!

Fear and me

For years, I allowed the fear of failure to stop me doing what I was capable of. I then discovered that the fear of failing was nothing like as bad, as the pain of regret.

Yes, I still feel the fear when starting a big project, but I have learned that every big advance in my life was preceded by fear. Quitting my well paid job to start a business, getting married, relocating from where all my clients were to live in a tiny village, starting a family – none of those wonderful experiences would have happened if I’d allowed the fear to stop me.

Using fear as your compass

I’d like to suggest that at least in business, you allow fear to be your compass. When you get what you believe is a great idea, then feel the fear creep in, see the fear for what it is – a sign that the idea/project will stretch you and cause you to grow.

Using fear as your compass does not guarantee that every big decision you make, will instantly be perfect.

However, it does give you total freedom to grow and achieve your full potential. You deserve nothing less!

Source: businessnewz


How To Become a Highly Productive Night Owl

Being an early riser has its benefits, but it isn’t for everyone. Some of humanity’s greatest minds (Voltaire for example) were renowned for sleeping in. Depending on personality, environment, and work schedule, being an early riser may not be practical.
A few months ago I gave early rising a try. I was able to wake up 1-1.5 hours earlier, but I couldn’t adjust to the early bed time. Each night around 10:00, no matter how tired I’d felt that day, my mind became active and I was unable to shut down until after 12:00. After a few weeks, sleep deprivation set in and I went back to my normal sleep pattern.
For those of us who experience a late night surge of mentally activity, waking before 6 a.m. can lead to exhaustion. Sleep schedule depends on many factors and is subject to change, but it’s important to find what works for you. Fortunately, those of us who aren’t suited to early rising can be just as productive by utilizing those quiet evening hours.
Late rising isn’t automatically beneficial. It has a negative connotation because, if poorly managed, sleeping late leads to perpetual grogginess and wasted days. Here are few strategies I’ve developed for effective late rising.

Don’t Over Sleep

The biggest temptation with late rising is to over sleep. Too much sleep is a bad thing. Rather than feeling more rested, it makes you lethargic. Having a regular wake up time is just as important for night owls as it is for early risers. If you don’t set a schedule, you’ll have a hard time being productive.

Don’t Sleep Too Late

Along the same lines, I’ve found that late rising is best in moderation. Sleeping until mid-afternoon can ruin an entire day. It throws off your biological clock, leaving you mentally dull, and makes it harder to get to sleep at a reasonable hour the following night. For me, the ideal wake up time is between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. This gives me a chance to get the 6-8 hours of sleep that I need without oversleeping or losing too much of the day.

Set a Cut Off Time

The challenge with being productive at night is that it’s hard to wind down. This can lead to late nights that throw off your schedule. The way to manage this is setting a cut off time. I set my cut off time for an hour before bed time, usually around 11:00-11:30. After the cut off time I stop working and wind down. I switch to mentally relaxing activities like minor household chores and light reading. I’d also recommend avoiding television and the computer completely. The brightness of the screen can trick your brain into thinking it’s day. Although there will always be those nights when I ride a rush of creativity until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., it’s better to make that the exception.

Schedule Around Your Energy Cycle

To maximize productivity it’s important to leverage the natural peaks of your energy cycle. Late rising works best for people who peak in the evening. If this is the case, you should create a schedule that lets you work at night. I’ve found mid-mornings to be productive, so I’ve built my schedule around a morning and evening shift.
After getting up around 8:00 or 9:00, I eat breakfast and work for 3-4 hours. By early afternoon my energy fades and I switch from creative work to less demanding tasks like responding to email, reading feeds, and running errands. Around 8:00 p.m. I have another energy peak and work the night shift until my cut off time at 11:00. Although it can be tough to schedule around a 9-5 job, you can probably figure out a way to take advantage of your evening energy peak by working from home or on side projects.

Take Advantage of Distraction Free Evenings

Early risers rave about the productivity of the wee morning hours before the rest of us wake up. Late risers have a similar advantage on the other end. By working in the evening we can avoid the distractions of meetings, email, and other demands. For me, the evening is when I’m able to break free from the outside world and immerse myself in mentally challenging work. Some people can’t concentrate at night, but I’ve found it’s the easiest time get into creative work flow without interruption.
It’s all about finding what works best for you. As a night person in his early 20′s with roommates who tend to keep late hours, I found early rising problematic. As I get older and my living situation evolves, it’s entirely possible I’ll join the 5 a.m. club. Until then I’ll continue to take pride in being a highly productive night owl.
Source: Pickthebrain

The Changing Face of Multicultural Marketing

If you’re in the business of marketing to different cultures – and, in a way, aren’t we all? – when was the last time you took a look at how your marketing is focused?

For instance, with the continued rise in use of social networks, are you using this medium or are you still in the “scared of social media” camp?

If it’s the latter, where else are you spending your time and energy? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your plan and see how it shapes up next to the latests figures released about multicultural marketing.

The Medium is Still the Message

Perhaps one of the more interesting results is that SEO – search engine optimization – is the #1 platform for targeting multiple cultures. Then again, maybe not – since the “SEO is dead” mantra usually comes from digital or social media specialists with an agenda to sell their services.

As per the image above, it’s still the leading choice for multicultural marketing, and it’s still a growing choice as well – up 6% from two short years ago.

As expected, social media comes in at a string second, as the “fad platform” becomes further entrenched in more business tactics and strategies. Mobile is also a strong player which, given that the Latin American phone market, for example, is the third largest in the world.

However, take a look at the biggest growth areas since 2010 – Twitter, webinars, blogs, wikis and location based apps (think Foursquare and Gowalla).

Twitter, perhaps, makes a lot of sense, since its mobile usage makes it more attractive as a target for multicultural marketing campaigns. And you’ll get no argument from me on the strength of blogs as a marketing tool, no matter what market or niche you’re going after.

But the others – especially the wiki approach and webinars – shows that there’s a very different marketplace in front of us than there were in 2010. So what does this mean for your business, if your audience is multicultural?

Choose Your Markets Wisely

If you’re marketing currently doesn’t include most of the options above, you’re already behind. As social and mobile continues to play a huge part of the overall marketing mix, your business needs to be on the platforms your audience prefers.

This is nothing new, of course – even back in the day, you’d choose your markets wisely, from the type of newspaper your advertised in to the radio show you’d buy ad space on.

The difference now is that your audience is more fractured; wants information sooner; and wants it on their terms.

  • If you’re planning any kind of mobile campaign, make sure your target destination is mobile-optimized or, at the very least, mobile-friendly. Otherwise you’re wasting your money and your customers’ time.
  • Webinars are inexpensive, can share a lot of information at once, and offer the perfect opportunity to gather emails for list building and future campaigns. Use them, and benefit from them.
  • Consider creating a wiki on your own website, with the most common questions; solutions to common issues; shared resources, and more. The more information a customer has on your product, the more they’re likely to try.
  • Be smart with location based marketing. Don’t just reward Mayors for checking in – create loyalty programs and time-sensitive offers. Also, cross-sell with other locations if you have multiple stores in the same city. Buy jeans at location A and get a matching top for 50% off if you also check in at location B.

As the ANA report shows, customer mindsets have changed drastically in just two short years. Now the question is, has your business mindset?

Source: businessnewz


How To Motivate Yourself – Self Motivation

Staying motivated is a struggle — our drive is constantly assaulted by negative thoughts and anxiety about the future. Everyone faces doubt and depression. What separates the highly successful is the ability to keep moving forward.

There is no simple solution for a lack of motivation. Even after beating it, the problem reappears at the first sign of failure. The key is understanding your thoughts and how they drive your emotions. By learning how to nurture motivating thoughts, neutralize negative ones, and focus on the task at hand, you can pull yourself out of a slump before it gains momentum.

Reasons We Lose Motivation

There are 3 primary reasons we lose motivation.
1. Lack of confidence – If you don’t believe you can succeed, what’s the point in trying?
2. Lack of focus – If you don’t know what you want, do you really want anything?
3. Lack of direction – If you don’t know what to do, how can you be motivated to do it?

How to Boost Confidence

The first motivation killer is a lack of confidence. When this happens to me, it’s usually because I’m focusing entirely on what I want and neglecting what I already have. When you only think about what you want, your mind creates explanations for why you aren’t getting it. This creates negative thoughts. Past failures, bad breaks, and personal weaknesses dominate your mind. You become jealous of your competitors and start making excuses for why you can’t succeed. In this state, you tend to make a bad impression, assume the worst about others, and lose self confidence.

The way to get out of this thought pattern is to focus on gratitude. Set aside time to focus on everything positive in your life. Make a mental list of your strengths, past successes, and current advantages. We tend to take our strengths for granted and dwell on our failures. By making an effort to feel grateful, you’ll realize how competent and successful you already are. This will rejuvenate your confidence and get you motivated to build on your current success.

It might sound strange that repeating things you already know can improve your mindset, but it’s amazingly effective. The mind distorts reality to confirm what it wants to believe. The more negatively you think, the more examples your mind will discover to confirm that belief. When you truly believe that you deserve success, your mind will generate ways to achieve it. The best way to bring success to yourself is to genuinely desire to create value for the rest of the world.

Developing Tangible Focus

The second motivation killer is a lack of focus. How often do you focus on what you don’t want, rather than on a concrete goal? We normally think in terms of fear. I’m afraid of being poor. I’m afraid no one will respect me. I’m afraid of being alone. The problem with this type of thinking is that fear alone isn’t actionable. Instead of doing something about our fear, it feeds on itself and drains our motivation.

If you’re caught up in fear based thinking, the first step is focusing that energy on a well defined goal. By defining a goal, you automatically define a set of actions. If you have a fear of poverty, create a plan to increase your income. It could be going back to school, obtaining a higher paying job, or developing a profitable website. The key is moving from an intangible desire to concrete, measurable steps.

By focusing your mind on a positive goal instead of an ambiguous fear, you put your brain to work. It instantly begins devising a plan for success. Instead of worrying about the future you start to do something about it. This is the first step in motivating yourself to take action. When know what you want, you become motivated to take action.

Developing Direction

The final piece in the motivational puzzle is direction. If focus means having an ultimate goal, direction is having a day-to-day strategy to achieve it. A lack of direction kills motivation because without an obvious next action we succumb to procrastination. An example of this is a person who wants to have a popular blog, but who spends more time reading posts about blogging than actually writing articles.

The key to finding direction is identifying the activities that lead to success. For every goal, there are activities that pay off and those that don’t. Make a list of all your activities and arrange them based on results. Then make a make an action plan that focuses on the activities that lead to big returns. To continue the example from above, a blogger’s list would look something like this:
1.Write content
2.Research relevant topics
3.Network with other bloggers
4.Optimize design and ad placements
5.Answer comments and email
6.Read other blogs

Keeping track of your most important tasks will direct your energy towards success. Without a constant reminder, it’s easy to waste entire days on filler activities like reading RSS feeds, email, and random web surfing.

When my motivation starts to wane, I regain direction by creating a plan that contains two positive actions. The first one should be a small task you’ve been meaning to do, while the second should be a long-term goal. I immediately do the smaller task. This creates positive momentum. After that I take the first step towards achieving the long-term goal. Doing this periodically is great for getting out of a slump, creating positive reinforcement, and getting long-term plans moving.

It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter periods of low energy, bad luck, and even the occasional failure. If you don’t discipline your mind, these minor speed bumps can turn into mental monsters. By being on guard against the top 3 motivation killers you can preserve your motivation and propel yourself to success.

Source: Picktehbrain

Help someone stop smoking today

I recently stopped smoking i.e.  4 days and 9 hours and 20min back. So, yes, I can honestly say that I have been "clean" for 4 days now! I am posting this to help me remember why I want to stop and also help you or someone that you love to stop smoking.

That said, I am really struggling! 

First thing I did was downloaded a couple of photos of "smoked lungs" so when I get the craving I have a quick look at the photos. 

All that I can say for now (i.e after 4 days) is that smoking tobacco is both a psychological habit and a physical addiction. 

The act of smoking is ingrained as a daily ritual and, at the same time, the nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary, and addictive, high. 

Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine has caused my body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to address both the habit and the addiction by changing your behavior and dealing with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Here is a section of an article that has also helped me:

Relieving unpleasant and overwhelming feelings without cigarettes

Managing unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety are some of the most common reasons why adults smoke. When you have a bad day, it can seem like cigarettes are your only friend. 

Smoking can temporarily make feelings such as sadness, stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. As much comfort as cigarettes provide, though, it’s important to remember that there are healthier (and more effective) ways to keep unpleasant feelings in check. These may include exercising, meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.

For many people, an important aspect of quitting smoking is to find alternate ways to handle these difficult feelings without smoking. Even when cigarettes are no longer a part of your life, the painful and unpleasant feelings that may have prompted you to smoke in the past will still remain. So, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the different ways you intend to deal with stressful situations and the daily irritations that would normally have you reaching for a cigarette.


7 tips for getting more website traffic

Establishing a strong web presence is a challenge that every business owner faces. For small businesses in particular, generating local traffic is key. Local customers provide the support that small businesses need to keep going, which makes optimizing your website for local search engine rankings even more important.

1) Find Reliable Hosting
Before you start any website project, you need a reliable place to host it. Look for a hosting service that provides enough bandwidth to support site pages, the types of media you're planning to use and the amount of traffic you're expecting to get. Without this, your site is likely to go down without warning. Downtime means disappointed customers and losses in sales.

2) Optimize for Local Keywords
You already know how important keywords are for SEO, but have you put effort into ranking for local keywords? Customers in your area are likely to use some kind of location-based term when searching for local products and services. If you're a cookie company in Vermont, for example, don't just optimize for "fresh cookies." Try phrases such as "fresh cookies in Vermont" or "homemade cookies in Montpelier." Incorporate these phrases into your website text, page titles and meta description tags in a way that flows naturally.

3) Include Location
Putting your business address and contact information somewhere prominent on your front page makes it easy for customers to get in touch with you. Putting it on all of your pages alerts search engines to where you are and can help deliver more useful results in location-based searches. While you're at it, why not embed a map as well? That way, customers can see exactly where your business is in relation to their own locations and find you more easily.

4) Get Listed on Local Directories
There are many online directories that allow you to list your business along with contact information, photos and sometimes even videos. Getting your business on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Superpages and other local search directories verifies that you're in business and lets you update your listings whenever necessary. Being listed can also give your search rankings a boost over and above the competition.

5) Local Linking
A good network of relevant backlinks helps to show search engines that your site is of high quality and worth crawling. Local backlinks from sources such as other businesses, local resource listings and pages for special community events give your company local credibility. Seek out a variety of links that will help establish your identity. When others link to you, make sure that they do so in a way that incorporates your highest-performing local keywords.

6) Use Social Media
People love to share where they've been and what they liked about it, and this is where social media comes in handy for small businesses. On Facebook, for example, business Pages put location, hours and contact information right near the top. When users "like" your page, the action shows up in their news feeds for their networks to see. You can also target important updates to specific locations, so it's easy to let followers in your community know about limited-time sales, special offers and other location-specific events.

7) Gather User Reviews
On many search directories, customers can leave reviews of their favorite businesses. You won't have any direct control over whether these reviews are positive or negative, but the feedback you get will help you make business decisions to better serve your customers in the future. Some sites allow you to reply to user reviews, giving you a chance to ask questions, resolve problems and establish yourself as a reliable presence in the community.

Making sure that your business website is designed to draw local traffic is worth the necessary time and effort. Local traffic not only brings in customers from around the community; it also boosts your reputation in nearby areas by generating Internet buzz and increasing consumer feedback. Local traffic has the potential to boost sales and raise brand awareness in the areas that are most important to your marketing efforts.

Source: businessnewz


7 Questions That Keep You Locked In On Growth

Do you know what’s one of the big problems for business owners and entrepreneurs? Having too many answers.

In fact, they often have so many ideas, notions and answers, they can’t stay focused on any one thing long enough to know if it’s THE answer.

For many people the constant storm of ideas and answers is a trait, for others it’s an affliction.

Experience tells me however that having the right answers isn’t nearly as valuable as focusing on the right questions.

When you can focus on creating priorities through a framework of customer focused questions, the answers you need in order to create growth, or for that matter, strategy, campaigns and internal processes, will magically present and order themselves.

Below are seven questions that can help organize your priorities and create the answers you need to keep locked in on growth.

1) How will people learn about our value proposition?

Creating and communicating just how your business is different from everyone else that “says they do what you do” is job number one. As you plan for growth you must know this difference and you must chart all the ways you will get it in front of ideal prospects.

This typically takes the form of advertising, public relations, referrals and partnerships.

2) What will make them want to know more?

It’s not enough to run an ad and think this will build the kind of trust needed to make a purchase. You must have an entire education pipeline in place so that a prospect can wade in and learn and experience how you’re different.

Often this step is achieved through content such as blog posts and eBooks.

3) What will lead them to give us permission to share our story?

This question really gets to the heart of the trust issue every business faces. The right to tell your story, what really makes you unique, is something that’s earned. This is also the place where your reputation is measured. Prospects that have come to this point are interested in what you do, now they need to learn how you do it in a way that corresponds with their values and beliefs.

Often, reputation management, reviews, SEO, content and customer stories make or break this element.

4) How can we offer proof that they can get the result they desire?

It’s not enough to simply make a promise these days. You must find ways to offer substantial proof that you can deliver a result. Case studies and customer testimonials are a great place to start, but nothing beats a real life experience.

This is the place where trial offers, evaluations, workshops or freemium versions of what you do can allow people to sample your brilliance in a lower risk form in order to make the decision to make a full purchase more easily.

5) How can we make the buying experience fun, effective and convenient?

Once someone says yes you need to go to work on reselling them and making the experience they received in the sales and marketing phase of the relationship just as good in the customer aspect of the relationship.

One of the best ways to initiate this is through a formal new customer orientation process that includes education and information coupled with some sort of surprise. It’s incredible how often attention to this question leads to referrals and word of mouth buzz.

6) What can we do to measure and ensure our customer gets the result they expected and more?

Sometimes, through no fault of our own, a customer doesn’t get the result they had hoped for. There can be many reasons for this, but focusing on building a process of measurement is crucial. This allows you to fix any lingering issues, but it also allows you to celebrate the value you bring to most customers and use that as both proof and validation for raising your prices.

Create a results review process and make it part of your growth plan.

7) What will lead every customer to talk about us to their friends, neighbors and colleagues?

This question could go on the front end of this post as one of the best ways to improve your business is to begin every client relationship with a referral in mind. At the very least, you must start to think in terms of moments of truth, or touch points where you plant the seed for referrals.

One of my favorite places to do this is during the lead conversion or sales process. Tell every prospect that you know they are going to be so thrilled with the work you do with them that they will want to tell others how they can receive this kind of valuable experience as well.

Source: businessnewz


All the stats you need to use Social Media and Content to generate business

The importance of integrating earned, owned, paid and shared media couldn’t be any greater and this week I’ll be giving a track keynote at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference in Boston on just that. My presentation will focus on the essential strategies and tactics for sales funnel optimization success with content, search and social media marketing.

To get things started, here are some handy general stats on search, social and content marketing plus quite a few specifically for B2B marketing:

50 Billion – By 2020, Ericcson predicts there will be 50 billion internet connected devices. The world population is estimated to be at around 7 -8 billion.

Social Media Marketing:

60% of B2B decision makers use social media, according to a Global Web Index study reported by Social Media B2B, late 2011.

More B2B marketers use Facebook (87%) than LinkedIn (86.6%) says Social Media Examiner in it’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. With a normal allotment for error with such surveys, it’s basically the same.

Only 40% of B2B marketers measure social media ROI reports BtoB Magazine in its report, "2012 B2B Social Media Marketing: A Surge in Adoption."

Search Engine Marketing:

63% of Internet users, use search engines daily according to eMarketer’s report in 2012, “Search for Branding: Tools for Better Campaigns”. Interestingly, 2.5% never use search engines.

89% of consumers surveyed use Internet search engines to make purchasing decisions, according to the “2012 Digital Influence Index” report from Fleishman-Hillard.

81% of consumers' perceptions about a company are influenced by search results, according to the respondents worldwide in a study from PR agency Weber Shandwick reported by eMarketer, 2012.

23 Billion. The search marketing industry association SEMPO reports that $23 billion will be spent on search marketing in 2012 as reported by Search Engine Watch.

Content Marketing:

90% of B2B marketers are using content marketing tactics to grow their business according to the joint “2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” (PDF) report from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute.

Top B2B Content Marketing Tactics (Content Marketing Institute 2012)
79% Article posting
74% Social media
65% Blogs
63% eNewsletters
58% Case studies
56% Live events

B2B Buying Cycle: Content, Devices and Formats (DemandGen Report 2012)

How B2B Buyers Start:
81% search engines
35% vendor website
34% industry guides & reports
23% social media Devices Most Used:
84% laptop
61% mobile phone or tablet
30% desktop Formats Sourced:
88% white paper
73% webinar
67% case study
63% blog posts
51% ebook

Despite the sheer number of marketers looking and talking about them, there simply are no silver bullets. There is no “one way” to solve most online customer acquisition and sales challenges. Usually, there are numerous ways to solve a particular marketing problem depending on resources, timeframe, competitive landscape and skill.

The key to integration of content with search and social media optimization across the sales funnel is to understand the customer journey. What problem is the buyer trying to solve? What are their goals? How do they discovery information online? What are their preferences fo content, media and device? What kind of content and media will motivate them to take action?

Understanding the customer journey empowers digital marketers with insight for creating a content marketing strategy that maps prospect interests with topics and an editorial plan. It enables marketers to architect a story that infotains, educates and persuades prospects to the next step in the sales cycle regardless of where they enter.

Continuous optimization provides a framework for hypothesis, implementation, and refinement to collect actionable data and refine performance whether tactics involve blogs, SEO and online PR or social networks, mobile ads and email marketing.

Source: BusinessNewz


5 tips to reduce your home loan

A house is usually the biggest asset that you will buy in your lifetime, but it's made affordable by the 20 year term of monthly repayments, according to Craig Deats, ooba sales director.

Deats says most people factor their monthly bond payments into their budgets, but don't think about the total value of repayments over the term of the loan.

As an example, he says when using the ooba calculator, one can see that on a house bought for R1 million, paid off at R8 678 monthly over 20 years, the buyer will have paid the bank R2 082 776.

However, there is a lot that one can do to reduce the term and the final total of loan repayment, says Deats.

1. The bigger the deposit, the better

It is wise to allocate whatever money you can to your deposit when applying for your home loan.

This makes your application more likely to be approved by the bank, and a R20 000 deposit on a R1 million home loan will reduce your total repayments by R41 656.

2. Secure a lower interest rate

Another approach to take is to secure the lowest possible interest rate.

Use an expert mortgage originator to negotiate on your behalf to get the lowest possible interest rate.

“Even a small reduction will result in a significant reduction in total repayments.”

3. Pay extra each month

The simplest, ongoing way to reduce the term and cost of your home loan is to pay in a little extra each month.

Using the calculator shows that even paying in as little extra as R200 a month will reduce the term of the repayments by more than a year and the total paid by R71 931 - obviously, the more you pay in, the more you save.

4. Pay in unbudgeted extras

Even if you're making good inroads into reducing the total cost of your bond by paying in extra each month, Deats says it should still be a primary goal to settle this debt as efficiently as possible.

“Every time you have some extra cash – a tax refund, a big commission or an annual bonus – pay some of that into your bond.”

He says you may miss it in the short term, but in the long term you'll be much better off.

Paying in extra at any point reduces the interest from that point onwards, so the earlier that you can make any bulk payment into your bond, the better.

This is especially useful if you have an access bond, because the deposited extra money will reduce the interest you owe, but can be withdrawn again should you need it.

5. Beat the interest calculation

Because of the fact that interest is calculated daily, you can also, should your cash flow allow it, reduce your total repayment amount by making your bond payments earlier in the month than actually required.

Each day of interest saved positively impacts the overall repayments.

“Buying a house is possibly the biggest and longest-term financial commitment that most people will get into,” says Deats.

He adds that if you make reducing your deficit a priority by bearing these tips in mind, you should be able to reduce your total repayment amount as well as the term of debt settlement.

Source: Property 24


7 Ways to improve your sales results, right now

Here are 7 marketing tips and ideas, to help you make more sales. I trust it will help.

1. Don’t close sales – Open relationships instead

For years, sales trainers used to tell people about the art of closing a sale. Today, we understand that business is all about people and that if we want to earn a client and encourage their ongoing patronage, we need to treat them like humans. This means building great, professional relationships with them.

For example: If you believe that you offer a great service, you have a professional obligation to tell prospective clients, so they don’t make a mistake and hire the wrong provider. You know that you will look after them, but you can’t be sure another provider will. Show them that you’re committed to helping them. Focus on them and their needs. Operating from this mindset is a great deal more effective, than ‘closing people out’ and seeing them as an opponent you need to beat.

2. Look for the gold in your inbox

Find the last 10 emails you opened, which came from people or businesses that you didn’t know. Look for what it was that caused you to open them. Then think of ways to incorporate the lesson into your own email marketing.

3. Develop more word of mouth referrals

Think of the people and businesses that you recommend to friends. In each case, you will find that they have earned your trust and that the service they provide is remarkable in some way. We talk or remark, on things that are remark(able). If you want to attract word of mouth referrals, you need to offer a service that inspires or motivates people to talk about it.

A great place to look for inspiration, is to identify what it is that motivates YOU to recommend vendors to your friends. What can you learn from them, which you can build into your own service?

4. Be extremely easy to contact
If you want to attract more sales inquiries from your website, make sure it’s as easy as possible for people to contact you. Link to your contact page from all your most visited pages. If you use a contact form, only ask for the details you MUST have. Every additional field you add to a contact form loses you a percentage of inquiries.

Also, offer people a landline phone number to call you on. A static number makes your business look more permanent than operating behind a mobile number. This is especially important if you operate in an area of business, where there are lots of low-value providers.

5. Get noticed by the right people

Many small business owners are uncomfortable at the prospect of standing out. The challenge with that mindset, is that you can’t be outstanding without standing out. That’s not just a play on words, it’s a cornerstone of successful marketing.

Your prospective clients or customers can’t see you if you’re hidden in the background. Most small business owners look and sound almost identical, when you read their marketing or follow them on a social network. By copying what you see others doing, rather than being yourself, you become camouflaged. Step out from the masses and tell your marketplace who you are and why they should listen to you. There are some ideas here on standing out.

6. Match your marketing to your marketplace

Some of the most popular marketing sites are operated by people, who make THEIR money selling low price affiliate marketing products or software. If you try and apply the same ‘killer’ techniques they use, when marketing your service based business, you will find it far less effective. I spoke recently with an accountant whose blog wasn’t generating any leads whatsoever. Her problem was that her site looked and sounded just like an affiliate marketing site. We changed it so that it reflected the service she provided and the inquiries immediately started to flow. I have seen that same issue hurt many, many service providers.

If you want to massively improve your marketing results, match your marketing to your marketplace.

7. Put your marketing ideas into action more often

Those great ideas you have for developing a new product or service can’t help you, if you don’t use them. There are few things in business more frustrating than seeing someone successfully put an idea into action, which you had years ago but didn’t run with. Similarly, many business owners wait until January to make important changes to their marketing, when it should be acted on as soon as possible.

Start off by actioning just one of your marketing ideas and see what happens. Test the idea. Measure the feedback. Learn from it and move forward. When you take this progressive, pro active approach, you will be amazed how much more effective your marketing becomes.

Source: businessnewz