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Serial Killers of Business #4

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In the last article we talked about having a contingency fund for cash flow crunches. Unfortunately, lack of cash flow is only one of many possible issues can spell disaster for a business. Calamities without Contingencies, #4 on our list, should be a wakeup call for any entrepreneur or manager that hasn’t written a Contingency Plan. There are several different types of issues that are more or less important, depending on your business, facilities, and number of employees. Here, we’re going to focus on a few operational disruptions, but we hope you’ll investigate further. Public Safety Canada is a good place to start.

Threats to Plan For:

Utilities – What will happen if the power goes out? What if you don’t have water or the sewage system backs up? Are you dependent on natural gas? In each of these scenarios, plan for short, medium, and long term outages, considering what you could do in advance to mitigate the impact. For example, have all of your computers plugged into a battery backup system, allowing files to be saved and computers to be shut down properly – procedures that should be documented in your plan.Natural Disasters – Fires, floods, and earthquakes are happening with increased frequency, and sometimes in areas with little history of such incidents. Your plan should cover protecting your business assets, including employees, to the extent possible, as well as alternatives to getting back up and running as soon as possible. Also think about your major suppliers, distributors, and customers. What if they are impacted?Illnesses – This has been the worst flu season in North America, and flu is just one of many contagious diseases that can impact on the work place. Employee illness can be an even greater concern if you have staff that travel frequently, particularly overseas. Your plan should consider the sudden loss of workers, and the cost/benefit of mitigating risk with paid sick leave, or foreign travellers staying home for a day or two following their return.

Equipment – How quickly can you make repairs or replace essential equipment? Consider production, transportation and communications. Remember that you may need to protect yourself from disasters that happen to your vendors and suppliers as well.

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Serial Killers of Business #5

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Everything seems to be running smoothly. You’re busy, which means you must be making money. A fabulous opportunity lands in your lap and you just need a bit of cash to make it happen. That’s when you suddenly realize, you don’t have any. Sometimes it’s just bad timing. Whatever the reason, you have no money in the bank and it’s frightening. The businesses that die from lack of cash flow, are the ones who don’t see it coming or ignore it when it happens. There are things you can do to get over that hump.

Protection Strategies:

Setting up a contingency fund and saving a percentage of every dollar you earn, is a great way to protect your business from cash shortages. Borrowing from yourself is easy and interest free. Just make sure you pay it back, so the fund is always there when you need it.If you don’t have a fund, consider borrowing, with the understanding that it may be a long shot unless you have assets for collateral or receivables greater than the amount you need to borrow.A better option might be to make some really quick sales. To do that without spending money takes effort, but is possible. Here are a few ideas:Use social media to announce a deep discount flash sale that starts immediately and ends within 48 hours. Don’t sell at a loss, but keep your profit margin low to generate a greater volume of sales, and some quick cash.

Use social media or a direct email to clients to announce referral incentives, sharable discount codes, buy one – get one, or similar inducements, again with a short timeline.If you belong to a networking group, tell them the problem and offer them the best discount you can. Most people are happy to help a friend, particularly if they get something out of it too.Pop-up stores are pretty popular these days, and if you can find a busy location that doesn’t require you to pay for the space up front, you can hold a sale on products, or services to be provided in future.Use any excuse you can up with, and all the contacts you have, to encourage immediate sales – your birthday, customer appreciation, etc.

 

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Serial Killers of Business: #6

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
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We continue to hear from clients puzzled by the lack of sales generated by their website. What they don’t understand is that having a great site simply isn’t enough these days. With more than one billion websites on the internet, competition is fierce in almost every imaginable category. That means that a great website is a must, but only the first step in an effective marketing plan. That brings us to the #6 killers of business – not doing enough advertising.

Internet advertising has a simple process:

set your goalscreate an advertising planimplement the planrevise the plan until the goal is metif results drop, change tacticsif results exceed capacity, expand capacity or drop advertising by 10%

Your plan should include Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Search Engine Marketing (SEM); and for most businesses, Social Media Marketing (SMM). In a few rare instances, internet advertising should be supplemented with more traditional formats, such as newspaper ads, but be sure to set these up so the benefits can be measured.

In days of old, formulas for determining an appropriate ad budget ranged from 50% of expected revenue for start-ups in a highly competitive industry, to 2% for well-known and profitable brands. With internet advertising, we prefer to use a different approach. What is a customer worth to you over their lifetime? So what is it worth to convert one of those customers – 10%? 50%?

Once you’ve determined your budget for internet advertising, it really is best to leave the implementation to a professional team (like ours ☺). We have in place and people dedicated to monitoring results. That allows us to tweak up the ads to get progressively better results over time, reducing the amount you need to spend.

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Serial Killers of Business: #7

pic2Your website is the core of your marketing strategy, or it should be. It can also be an essential part of your sales cycle, and form a part of your operational activities.

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Serial Killers of Business: #8

pic2Marcie’s great, isn’t she? She does all the ordering, pays all the bills, fixes the printers, and seems to be the only one who can get that old safe to open.

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Serial Killers of Business: #9

Patience no longer exists. We live in a world where instant gratification is the expected norm.

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Serial Killers of Business: #10

While it’s never a good idea to focus too much attention on what not to do in business, analyzing negative outcomes allows us to determine where the missteps occurred so that others can avoid them.

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No Joke

pic2Three men walk into a restaurant. Each is seated in a different section with a different waitress. The first man says, “I’ll have the special,” to which his waitress replies, “We don’t have a special.” The man gets up and walks out.

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Web Trends for 2018

pic6If your website needs more than the kind of quick fix we talked about last time, consider a makeover featuring some of these emerging trends.

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Spruce up your website for 2018

pic2Spruce up your website for 2018 (and more importantly, for under $1,000!)

‘Twas the season for spending, so Angela’s in bargain hunting mode. She suggested an article on quick and easy (and therefore, cheap) ways to perk up a website that’s a couple of years old. Great idea, so here we go!

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Web Optimization – Part 5: Performance

Web Optimization 8In this last article of the series, we look at one of the most important aspects of Web Optimization – performance. Resolving performance issues are best left to the pros, but here are some things to test (after clearing your cache in your browser).

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Web Optimization – Part 4: Content

Web Optimization 4So far, in this series on Web Optimization, we’ve talked about the Home Page, Design and Navigation, and Features and Functionality. Today is all about content.

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Web Optimization – Part 3: Features and Functionality

Web Optimization 4In this web optimization series, we’re looking at methods to increase conversions – the number of site visitors who respond to your call to action to make a purchase, get a quote, or contact you.

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Web Optimization – Part 2: Design and Navigation

Web Optimization 4Web optimization is a process used to maximize the number of visitors who make a purchase online or begin the transaction process by contacting you. In this series, we’re looking at some of the factors involved in optimizing your website.

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Web Optimization – Part 1: The Home Page

Web Optimization 1Web optimization is a process used to maximize the number of visitor “conversions.” On an ecommerce website, a conversion is a sale, but conversions include any visitor action promoted on the site, such as filling out a Request for Quote form, sending an email or making a phone call to the company.

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What you need to know about SEO - Part 8: Wrap Up

questionWe're wrapping up this article series with a few frequently asked questions about Search Engine Optimization, and moving on to another topic. What would you like to learn more about? Send us your questions and suggestions on anything to do with Internet Advertising! Now, FAQs.

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What you need to know about SEO – Part 3: More about crawling spiders

seo1First, a little lingo lesson. A “bot” is a computer program that, once put into action, runs automatically. The internet is often referred to as “the web” because it functions much like a spider’s web, with many different ways to connect between two specific points.

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What you need to know about SEO – Part 2: How search engines produce results

seo3Google is the most popular search engine out there and they offer great resources for developers and marketers, so we’re going to use Google as our search engine example.

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What you need to know about SEO – Part 1: What is it?

seo1Welcome to our new article series. Don’t worry, this one is information only – no homework! Well, that is true if you actually did do your homework last time and wrote your marketing plan. Why? Because a great SEO program needs a lot of the information you complied in your plan.

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Marketing Series Part 9 – The Components of Your Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan

Welcome to the final edition of our Marketing series. Over these past months, we’ve dedicated each newsletter to one component of a Marketing Plan, and how you can do the research and strategizing needed to develop a plan for your company. In this last installment, we’ll summarize some highlights and provide links to the related article for each component.

The most common theme throughout the development of a Marketing Plan is knowing everything you can dig up about your customers. That information helps you think the way they think, so you can meet their expectations in every facet of your business operations.

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Marketing Series Part 8 – Advertising

Advertising

Generally speaking, advertising is any form of promotion where you pay to display content at a particular venue. In this article, we’ll discuss the different kinds of advertising and the best methods to use for different types of companies, products, services and audiences.

 

Effective advertising has three objectives:

  1. Getting the ad in front of your target market;
  2. Garnering the attention of your target market; and,
  3. Making a persuasive call to action.

Let’s look first at each of these separately.

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Marketing Series Part 7 – Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy 1
Setting a Budget
Setting Parameters
Devising Strategies

Over the past months, we’ve looked at six different marketing topics that will become components of your Marketing Plan. This month, we’re going to talk about the steps in devising your marketing strategy.As you’ve no doubt gathered by now in this series, the differences between different areas of marketing can be rather subtle. So, perhaps the best way to explain how Public Relations differs from Reputation Management or Customer Relations, is with some examples.

 

Setting Objectives

Setting objectives for your marketing plan is all about math. Considering your business model, overall business objectives, and customer purchasing data, think about what you need to accomplish with your marketing. If 50% of your existing customers spent an additional $10 a month, would you reach your business objectives? Would a 25% increase in your customer base be sufficient, or do you need to double it? Is there a sufficient population of your target market in the geographic area you currently serve or do you need to expand? When you’ve done your research and calculated the various options, your objectives should be stated as precisely as possible, and in measureable terms. For example:

Over the next three years, we will increase our customer base by 25%, bringing in 500 new customers.In each of the next three years, we will increase the average sales per customer, per month by 10% to a total of $60.By June 2019, 20% of our customers will be in the United States.

 

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Marketing Series Part 6 – Public Relations

Public RelationsIn the digital world, public relations has become more important than ever before. Why? Because even if your customers are happy, upsetting the “Internet” or the “Twitterverse” can have devastating repercussions. Making your brand and good reputation known well beyond your customer group can help protect you from the trolls, as well as increasing awareness to grow your customer base.

As you’ve no doubt gathered by now in this series, the differences between different areas of marketing can be rather subtle. So, perhaps the best way to explain how Public Relations differs from Reputation Management or Customer Relations, is with some examples.

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Marketing Series Part 5 – Customer Relations

Customer Relations 2The term “Customer Relations” pretty much says what it means – it’s how you interact with your customers and the quality of the relationship that forms as a result. The secret here is viewing your customers as friends. That means listening as well as talking, being fair, staying in touch, living up to your good reputation, and not taking advantage. If you are good to them, your friends will support you, and not just in terms of sales. Here are three principles to guide your Customer Relations policies and procedures.

 

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Marketing Series Part 4 – Reputation Management

reputation management2While your brand is something that you create, your reputation is what others really think of you, and “others” are fickle creatures ready to pounce in cat-like fashion. Your company’s good reputation is essential to success and can be ripped from you in the most unexpected of ways. Remember the guy who kicked the dog in the elevator and lost his job as CEO? Or the Olympic swimmer who exaggerated a drunken encounter with a police officer in Rio? He lost four sponsorship deals.

The power of the internet is a double edged sword that can make you or break you. As the examples of poor research, poor behaviour, poor customer service, etc. explode, pundits are cautioning that reputation management needs to become reputation development and reputation marketing.

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Marketing Series Part 2 – Your Products, Services, and Target Markets

Your Products, Services, and Target Markets
Your Products, Services, and Target Markets
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You already know what you have to sell, but do you understand what your customers are buying? Do you know who they are, why they want what you have, how they make the decision to buy from you?

One of the most basic premises of marketing is matching – matching what you have to sell with customers who want buy. That means that you have to understand your customer base, and the segments within it, so you can tailor your marketing plan to find new customers like them, appeal to them, and convince them to buy from you.

Let’s look at a few basic demographics first. You can download your own worksheet here. In the first column, list your products or services. You can add up to 20, so group items together if that makes sense. For example, if you sell auto parts, you’re not going to list each individual part, so use groups like engine parts, wipers and exterior products, etc.

Then, for each item or group, put an x in the column that best represents the age groups of customers who purchase that item, and in the last column, enter an m or f to show whether more buyers are male or female. If you really have no sense of your customers’ ages or gender, best to figure out a way to find out. Could you take a guess based on names in your database? Ask your front line staff what they think? Keep track for a few weeks and estimate on that info?

Here’s an example based on our business.

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Marketing Series Part 1 – What “Marketing” Means

Marketing Series Part 1Welcome to the first edition of our Marketing series. Our intent is to share our knowledge of the timeless basics of marketing and business development, and how these translate into the current sales environment. Our hope is to give you greater insight into the consumer perspective and show you how to use this information to grow your business. You’ll have the option to just read and learn, or to put the information to use to create your own Marketing Plan. So, the first order of business is to talk about what Marketing means in today’s world.

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5 Ways to Defeat Digital Junk Mail

Annoying, time sucking, distracting – we all hate junk mail; and it’s especially infuriating when it’s email. Yes, there’s always a yin and a yang, but here are five ways to stave off chaos in your inbox.

 

Just Say No

The truly devious hackers and spammers don’t follow the rules, but chances are that most of the unwanted email you get will have the legally mandated “unsubscribe” link somewhere. Most of the ones I’ve found are in teeny tiny font at the very bottom of the message. Admittedly, it’s a constant battle, but you can save yourself some time and annoyance by unsubscribing whenever you can.

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An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Vacationing in Stealth Mode

Entrepreneur’s guide to vacationingWhen you own your own business, taking time off can be tricky. You want to be the “go to” person for your clients; the one who is always there for them, at the ready to solve whatever problem they may have. You don’t want to miss calls from potential new customers; and announcing that you’re on vacation makes you look like a slacker, even if it’s the first holiday you’ve taken in a decade. The solution? Taking a vacation without anybody knowing you’re taking a vacation. Here’s how:

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Beware the March Hare: 3 Steps to Great Marketing

3 Steps to Great Marketing

A timely comparison, the March Hare of Alice in Wonderland fame is described as “silly, ill-mannered, and loud;” all of the characteristics you want to avoid in your marketing. While the March Hare demands attention, gimmicks don’t give you the return on investment you can get with a less obtrusive, more logical approach. Here are the three basic steps that will earn the loyalty of your existing customers, and turn them into advocates for your products and services.

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2016 Web Design Trends

2016 Web Design TrendsHappy New Year! Time to get back to work, set new goals, and refresh your marketing. We’ve read the pundits’ predictions for web design trends this year, and found two we’ve held dear for a while now, along with two that were a bit of a surprize. So here they are, as they say on Sesame Street, brought to you by the letter C.

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Learning from the mistakes of others as we wrap up 2015

If it ain't broken...

TED won the 2015 People's Voice and Webby Award in the Best Home/Welcome Page category. In addition to a colourful display with lots of topical news options, they had a simple menu: Watch, Read, Attend, Participate, About. Makes perfect sense.

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3 things that should scare you that you might not know about

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought it was timely to share a few of the scariest things we’ve heard about in the past few months. BOO!

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We won! We won!

Summit Award

We’ve just been notified that we’ve won Gold at the 2015 Summit Creative Awards for the category of Educational Institution Website! The winning website was developed for Kosmetae Academy (kosmetae.com) and was one of 5,000 submissions from 23 countries.

We always strive for excellence and awards like this provide an international benchmark. Receiving an award is great, but more importantly, these competitions give us an assessment of our work from experts all over the world. We’re very proud to be ranked so highly on a global scale.

We’re always excited to win awards (Yay!) but international recognition makes us especially proud. Paul, Andrew, James – way to go team!

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Free Tools to Help You Work More Efficiently

Open Office Logo
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Got Free Fax Logo
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Summer's coming and we all need a vacation! Save a few bucks for the holidays and get those projects wrapped up faster with these great tools, available free on the web.

 

Apache Open Office

Open Office offers a suite of office software including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations that you can download for free. It looks and works very much like Microsoft Office and can load and read MS Office files.

openoffice.org

 

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6 Ways to add Some Sizzle to Your Summer!

Add Sizzle to Your SummerIt’s time to add some sizzle to your summer!

It may not be beach weather yet, but it is definitely time to start planning your summer marketing program. Whether the warmer months are usually peaks or pits in business volume, you need to take advantage of the lighter hearted, spend-friendly mood that comes with the summer sun.

 

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Show Them Some Love!

Valentine's DayShow them some love! Valentine's Day is a great reminder to think about ways you can show your customers how much you value them. A little appreciation goes a long way in building solid, long term relationships which means repeat business and word of mouth referrals. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

 

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2015 Rules of Engagement: Get Real, Get Personal, Get Mobile

The tech wizards and marketing gurus have made their predictions for 2015. Here’s our summary of how to find new customers and keep the existing ones coming back over the coming year.

 

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Why Internet Marketing is Good for Your Business

When you ask this question more than 10 years ago: “Does your company have a website?” you would not be surprised when you meet a few people saying they don’t have a website for their companies. Some would even ask: “Why would I even need a website? My company is doing well in its sales, thank you very much.”

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Ways to Make Your Brand Memorable on Social Media

Nowadays, when you want to promote your website, you cannot ignore the power of social media. Millions of people worldwide are into social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You can therefore tap the potential customers in social media to be aware of your products and services and might be interested in purchasing them.

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Three Reasons Why I Signed My Business Up for Facebook, Twitter

I believe that we are currently experiencing the most social the world has ever seen, with hordes of social networking sites proliferating in the Internet, with new ones being introduced everyday. Despite this smorgasbord of social networking platforms for my online marketing needs, I have decided to focus the bulk of my efforts on two sites in particular—Facebook and Twitter.

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The Wonderful World of SEO

One of the best ways to promote your products and services online is using search engine optimization (SEO). After you have finished creating your website, including the design and content, make sure that you devise and implement a good SEO strategy in order for your website to appear high on search results in Google and other top search engines, and thus ensuring that the information about your products as well as services gets spread.

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The Cheat Guide to Internet Marketing

So you want to Internet marketing, but you don’t know where to start? Internet marketing may be hard to understand for a number of people, but you should not be among them.

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Nine Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love

So you are thinking of devising and implementing a sound search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for your website. Here are some very nine helpful tips to get you started. Many of these tips are so easy, that even a non-techie person like your mother would love.

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My Three Best Partners for Online Marketing

A few years ago, a friend convinced me that it is time to scale back on traditional marketing tools like flyers, billboards, or television ads and to start exploring the possibilities of using the Internet. With much trepidation but also a bit of excitement, I slowly incorporated online for my business marketing mix, and I am grateful I did.

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My Four Favorite Facebook Marketing Techniques

There’s no doubt about it, Facebook is a tour de force in online marketing. Just ask the investors who bought shares when the social networking company made its first public offer, or the host of small retailers who made Facebook their primary home.

Here, I'm sharing my four favorite Facebook marketing techniques and how you can replicate them for your own business.

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My Favourite Internet Marketing Tips

Are you looking for some marketing tips for your online business? Although there are hundreds of tips available, here are a few which might prove to be very helpful to online business owners like you that have a website.

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Klout Score: What Does it Mean for a Company?

Klout. When I first saw that term, I thought someone must have been careless with editing.

Klout. Klout. Klout score. I ended up seeing and hearing the term everywhere—always with a K, never a C, that I thought something must be up. And what a something it is.

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Internet Marketing Risks and Riches for Businesses

Many people say the effects of the Internet in the 21st century are comparable to those of the technological revolution at the end of the 19th century. Indeed, the Internet has been such a huge influence in transforming the habits of human beings, and the way we communicate to others.

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How to Manage Social Media for Your Business

Social networking is one of the most cost-efficient marketing and public relations tool in the Internet today. I strongly recommend getting your business into these social networking networks so it can be a part of a network not just of possible customers but also potential suppliers, partners, or financiers.

Engaging in social media, however, can waste a lot of time and energy, and can be more of a distraction than a beneficial endeavor. Here I have some tips on how to manage social media for your business.

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How to Create E-newsletters

Online marketing takes many shapes and forms but e-newsletters are one of its most effective tools. Creating one, though, can be challenging especially for inexperienced managers because making a newsletter is both an art and an inexact science.

If you are in need of a little guidance in this endeavor, I have prepared a step-by-step guide for your business on how to create e-newsletters, as follows:

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Harnessing the Benefits of E-newsletters

One of the most enduring online marketing tools is the e-newsletter. When I first started using these e-newsletters for my own company, I was amazed at how many people I can reach by just sending out a simple email. My techniques back then were still very simple—I only upload and send a digital file of some of the company's flyers or brochures to my list of a few hundred people. Even then, however, I knew that they were working and that my business is benefiting from e-newsletters.

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Business PR in the Time of Social

It is standard for all companies and businesses to create press releases as part of their information and marketing campaigns. With the advent of social networking sites and the type of marketing specifically targeted to social media users, it is important for businesses to know how to adapt their press releases to this new technology.

I offer basic guidelines for business PRs in the time of social.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Internet Marketing Challenges

Whether offline or online, marketers like you face a variety of challenges. In the online world, many marketers worry of not getting enough reach or traffic to their sites, or not being able to profit from their target market.

What are some of the top Internet marketing challenges, and what are ways how to solve them?

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Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Spam?

The simple answer to this question is NO; search engine optimization is not spam.

Here is a great video from Matt Cutts talking about search engine optimization and how it can be helpful for search engines and website owners.

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Why You Should Prefer Internet Marketing Over Offline Marketing

In today’s wired world, it is almost natural for businesses to market their products and services online. After all, a lot of people nowadays spend considerable time online not just to get information but also to purchase products and services they need and want.

 

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What is Search Engine Marketing / SEM?

We get this question from many of our clients and the overall answer is quite simple.

Search Engine Marketing is a form of Internet Advertising which promotes websites by increasing their visibility in search engines.

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Internet Marketing on a Tight Budget: The Lowdown

In a wired world where every online business is fighting for attention from customers, it has become more difficult to get noticed by your target market. Aside from the usual distractions online and in social media, you are also competing with bigger companies that have spent a lot of money in their marketing and advertising departments.

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How to Use Twitter for Sales and Marketing

Without a doubt, people who are into Internet marketing are using Twitter for sales and marketing. There is no reason for you not to tap the power of Twitter to promote your produces and services.

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Getting a virtual “foot in the door” - Ekonovac

With new media exploding all around us, it’s easy to get caught up in the fad of the day, and to totally forget about marketing basics. Back in the day, if you wanted to sell home appliances, you targeted women who worked in the home. If you could get your “foot in the door” to keep it open long enough to make your initial pitch, your chances of making a sale went way, way up.

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Domain Names – What You Need to Know

Over the years, many customers have contacted us regarding problems with their domain name or names. While these problems range in difficulty and solutions, we encourage all of our customers to think about their domain names at the time of registration. The following is a discussion of common problems with domain names and the solutions to these problems.

 

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How to Boost Your Company’s Klout Score

Klout score is the new buzzword in the Internet, and especially for social media, today. An online and mobile application that measures an entity’s magnitude of influence in social media networks, it is a figure that can range from 1 to 100 summarizing for you and all your stakeholders the sway that you reach and hold you have over various market segments. The general rule is that a higher score for an entity is always better.

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