With all the talk of Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+, it’s easy to forget some of the good, tried-and-true marketing tactics. For instance, the autoresponder. I started using autoresponders about eight years ago, and since then it’s become a consistent part of our marketing.

While autoresponders may not be as sexy as some of the new social media, it’s a method of marketing that should not be overlooked. Here’s why. We get flooded with information via text messages, Twitter tweets, or Facebook status updates — the information is endless. We don’t often retain what we read or hear just once. That’s why there is the “marketing rule of seven,” in other words it takes seven impressions to your book, message, or product for your consumer to take notice. Certainly it’s conceivable that you could manually send out email messages to your customer base. But if you’re trying to run a business, create a product, write new books, and all of the other things that fill your day, this really isn’t very reasonable.

Definitely worth clicking through to read the full article!

When the experts tell you you’re going to need a press kit for your small business I’ll bet you’re wondering why on earth you’d need one. At least, I think you’d wonder why if you think a press kit is just for the press. But the term ‘press kit’ is misleading if you ask me because press kits aren’t just what their name implies.

I prefer to call them small business information kits or information packages instead because that’s what they really are. They are meant to inform everyone, not just the press about you and your business.

Once you have a small business information kit, you’ll find you’re often giving them when someone asks for information about your company–who you are, what you do, how you can benefit them. In fact, you’ll probably find you’ll give out almost as many of your information kits as your business cards.

Sometimes it’s more appropriate to simply hand out just your card, but other times, you might like to give someone more information than what’s on your business card.

Say you’re at a party and someone asks what you do. You’d probably just give them your business card. But your business card gives this business contact only the briefest information about your company.

So, you might also ask for their name and address, and send them an information kit the next day. Sending your information kit the next day also works as an important reminder of the evening’s discussion.

On the other hand, if you’re a plumbing company, you might want to contact construction companies in your area to see if they’re interested in subcontracting your company from time to time, or better yet all the time!

Sending them just a business card probably won’t get you very far. Even sending a well-written letter introducing your company together with your business card probably wouldn’t be as effective as a complete information kit.

You could think of your business card as the “who and the where, and a little bit of the what” of the 6 interview questions—who, what, where, when, why and how. Your card probably has your business name, contact information and possibly a slogan, motto or some saying suggesting what you do.

Your information kit on the other hand, answers all the questions. It tells people who and where you are, just like your business card does. But instead of one little line suggesting what you do, your information kit tells people exactly what you do. How well it tells them what you do depends on how good your copywriting is.

The real secret is convincing people they can’t do without your product or service, remembering that along with a great description of your product or service, to consider your information kit from your clients’ perspective. Everyone wants to know how what you do can benefit them. How you can save them time or how you can save them money, or how you can make their life just a little bit easier.

One last word on presentation of your small business identity package. It’s almost as important as what you say. A professional image can go a long way in assuring potential clients your small business is the one they want to do business with.

You cannot compete with big companies without one, and you’ll be miles ahead of the small businesses that don’t have one. And while we’re talking about professional image, imagine how your small business will be perceived when you have the ultimate in professional image– a matching corporate identity package, information kit and small business web site.

Do Small Businesses Need Websites?

In one word, yes! The internet is the most effective marketing tools in existance nowadays, have the capability of reaching far more people than any leaflet drop or advertisement in the local paper ever will.
Should you produce your own website?

It all depends on your skills, if you have the ability to produce a site that looks good, then go ahead, it will save you money and will work wonders as a marketing tool. However if your skills are limited or non-existant then we’d say no. Why? No, not because we want your money (although we don’t mind if you want to give it to us…), because if your site doesn’t have a professional look to it, then it is going to reflect badly on your company’s image.

Do you need to spend lots of money?

It really depends on the size of your website, if you’re looking simply get a presence on the internet, then you can easily get something for around £250 if you take the time to look, if you’re really getting into the idea of being online and effectively having your shop exist in cyberspace you’re going to be looking at more money, however even then, there are many self-build options such as Ekmpowershop.

What content do you need?

This all depends on what you want from being online, if you want to sell online, have your products online is going to be very useful! If you’re just looking to get your company online, then there are TWO elements that we believe are imperative:

Information about your company
How to contact you

Without these two no-one is going to know who or what you are, with the former being your chance to sell yourself. Remember when people look at websites, if its well designed they won’t know if they’re dealing with a multi-national company or a one person organisation, this is your chance to play alongside the big boys!!

What to do now?

So you’re convinced a website is the way to go? Excellent, this can only be of benefit to you! Now you’ve got to find a designer (there’s one right here!!!), things to keep in mind when looking is what kind of style are you looking for, find some websites that you like then find some designers and see if they can produce something along that line! If they can, you’re on the way to bringing into being what can be one of your best employees!

Blend Your Strengths with Small Business Needs

If you are looking to start a small business of your own, there is a proven process that is necessary to start off with. Many creative people have great business ideas, but their approach to planning is ineffective and eventually flops. First and foremost, you have to find a market that is a good size. Now what does this mean exactly? Finding a niche market that is a reasonable size entails pinpointing one that is big enough to make a profit but small enough for the resources of a small business and one that does not compete with large corporations.

Two main mistakes that entrepreneurs make in finding small markets are targeting a market that is too broad and targeting a niche that is already heavily exploited. What you decide to sell must connect product to target audience or you will not be successful.

To start off with, choose your own unique area of expertise. What are you good at? What do you have experience in? Use your education, your skills and the people you know who could help you transform your idea into reality. If you have many areas of interest and are not sure which one would be the most profitable, a little more research will be needed. Consider how it will be possible to convert your education and skills into money-making opportunities. Research your surrounding marketplace to see what is needed in your area.

Now if you are trying to find small markets online, be forewarned that this can be tedious and time-consuming. You will first have to think of a list of possible target audiences, then take your first idea and research an exhaustive list of keywords and keyword phrases that people in that target audience are using for information on their desired product. Next, one must research all keywords and phrases for relevancy and then study which keywords on your list might lead to other niches that will need future researching.

Then, you need to compare all your keywords to web pages to evaluate the present competition. You will use all your information to narrow down your list to keywords and phrases that have the most online traffic and those that are the least exploited. If your small market does not appear to be profitable, you must start the entire research process over. If you do find one that seems to be a money maker, you then must focus on finding ideas to profit from.

You May Have A Successful Small Business Idea

You surely know that a small idea can lead to a great business success. The first movement is to think of an idea that would be suitable for the business market. After coming up with the idea, the next step is to put that idea into action. Of course, this is a very difficult step and having the idea is only the start of the journey. After that you will have to face many obstacles before being able to carry on with your business project. This is just the beginning of this process and there is a lot of questions you will have to answer before even start.

Some of the main aspects you have to concentrate on when you have business ideas are the abilities and gifts you can pour into the business. It is very important for you to be identified with your business project. Those ideas should be based on activities and actions you take pleasure in doing. For example, if we suppose that you dislike working in the open, landscaping business would not suit you.

On the other hand, if you like working with children, setting up baby-sitting or tutoring business would be an excellent idea. In this case, without any doubt you business will be more successful because you will have put your mind, effort and also your heart on it.

Another vital step is to analyze the needs of a specific product or service in your region before setting up your business. Do people of your area need your product? Are there other business like the one you are planning to start? You should ask yourself whether or not you are the only one offering that service or product. If you are not, you will have to analyze the competence you will have to face. You have to think whether the service you are offering is one that customer would repeat, or if it is a one-time specialized service. Obviously, the former are more likely to succeed than the latter.

There are other aspects you have to take into account. These aspects are described below:

- One of them is that if the idea is unique, you will reign the market. But if there is much competition, it will be difficult to enter into the market.

- A second point would be if you can offer quality from the very beginning, otherwise, you won’t succeed.

- Finally, you have to think about your capital to start your own business. There are many business ideas that require little investment and bring great profit. Some demand research, such as daycare service, and others need a large amount of money to begin the business. So take this recommendation into account before investing all your money in a small business idea.

You Can Have A Successful Small Business

Owning and maintaining a very successful small business can have its challenges but if you know what you are doing, everything can really work out great for you. There are many helpful tips that you should learn, if you are the owner of a small business and then by learning about these tips you should have the ability to have a very secure and profitable future.

Knowing how to operate a small business properly will give you and your employees much relief in knowing that their positions are stable and secured. Your employees will be much happier, as will you, if you do all of the right things and play your cards right. In this article I am hoping to teach you a little bit more about managing a small business so that you will be a success. Having a small business definitely has its own advantages and some of those will be included throughout this article.

It is very important for you to learn more about what it takes to run a small business successfully so that if you or someone you know becomes interested in opening your own small business, you will be much more knowledgeable about all aspects of it. Another great thing about owning your own small business is that usually this means you will for sure have many more awesome customers that will tell others about it and continue coming back themselves. You will have a reputation for owning and managing a very reputable, friendly and affordable, yet small business.

A small business would typically go over very well because there will be enough customers to continue keeping you with plenty of customers and when people are on vacation in your area, they too have probably already heard about your small business and many of them will choose to come into your small business and will be quite pleased by the friendly employees and the great prices. Check out the other small businesses in your area to see what it is they are doing to draw in more new customers, do not copy them but definitely kind of take a few little suggestions and ideas from watching others with more experience.

Advertising is something that most businesses do, which you as a small business owner will as well at some point in time, however, even without the professional advertising, your small business will still be successful due to all of your loyal customers that absolutely adore coming into your wonderful store. All it takes to have a very successful small business is friendliness, determination, customers that count on you and a good knowledge about business management will always make for a better chance at success.

A small business could typically go over very successfully, as long as you first do some homework over managing your own business, as well as talking with other small business owners because the more experienced people could really provide you with a great deal of helpful information and some tips that can almost guarantee your small businesses success and longevity.

Web Advertising for the Small Business

If you run a small business, advertising costs must be figured in as part of your overall expenses. If you have received quotes for phone directory ads, business association block ads, and mostly any other print media, these costs are quite high. So, what if your budget is small, perhaps negligible? Will you be left outside of the advertising arena or are there other avenues to help you get the word out? The answer in one word is: yes. Let’s explore ways you can “get the word out” through online means…yes, via the internet!

The rise of the internet has spawned an entire industry with it. You may remember in the late 1990s stories of dot.com companies who made a fortune and then went bust. The “irrational exuberance” of that era has, thankfully, passed by and in its place is a much more rational, but very lively market.

Today’s biggest players online are search engine providers led by Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Between them, these three search engines dominate the market. Mostly everyone today searches the internet for products sold by small businesses to large corporations and these are the people you want to target. Indeed, while Christmas season sales typically increase around 4% year over year for “brick and mortar” retailers, the internet has been seeing year over year increases of 30% and higher! No small business operator should exclude the internet when crafting a marketing plan.

By selecting the advertising plan that works for you, you can have your ads appear on web sites in your local area or across the world and be charged a small amount per click. In other words, you don’t pay for advertising unless someone clicks on your ad and goes through to your site. To keep clicks from getting out of control you determine the price per click and the amount per day, week, or month you are willing to pay. No busting of your small business budget!

Banner or text ads on select sites can also be helpful for your small business. If there is a web site you like and you suspect that a lot of your customers would frequent that site, contact the webmaster to learn what his advertising charges would be. Perhaps in exchange for submitting a few helpful articles, the webmaster would waive your advertising fee altogether. Or, at the very least, accept any other help you could provide [moderating a forum, answering questions, etc.].

Another way of getting the word out is through your own web site. No, you don’t need a web professional to establish your site, but it does help to have someone who can guide you through the set up process. At the very least a few pages is what you will need, so set up costs shouldn’t be terribly expensive. In addition, figure on paying monthly hosting and domain name fees but these expenses should be no more than $100-$125 per year. Pay a little extra for a web professional who can help you optimize your site [make it search engine friendly] and you’ll get your money back much quicker. Finally, check with your accountant for small business tax deductions.

Select the marketing plan that works best for your small business. A mixture of all four points is a great plan of attack for many small business owners…just like you!

Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) can be one of the smartest business moves you will ever make. A good VA will be able to assist you in handling your administrative workload, allowing you more time to focus on growing your business and generating revenue. Here are just ten of many ways that a Virtual Assistant can provide much-needed support to your small business:

1. General Administrative Support
If you ever wished you had an administrative assistant on call, a Virtual Assistant may be the perfect solution for you! VAs can provide general administrative services such as word processing, data entry, spreadsheet and database maintenance, desktop publishing- the list goes on and on. In fact, if you could give it to an administrative assistant, you can give it to a Virtual Assistant!

2. Invoicing
A Virtual Assistant can facilitate your invoicing, ensuring that your clients receive timely, accurate invoices. By partnering with a VA to prepare your invoices, you can gain a tremendous amount of time each month to focus on other aspects of your business that require your specialized attention.

3. Email and Voicemail Management
If you get large numbers of emails or voicemails, a Virtual Assistant can manage your inboxes. They can sort through the spam and reply to messages that don’t require your attention, leaving you with fewer messages to wade through everyday. A VA can also provide you with a consolidated report of voicemail messages, allowing you to return a number of important phone calls from a single report.

4. Online Marketing Management
A Virtual Assistant can assist you with your online marketing plan. They can manage your pay-per-click campaigns, post articles, submit your website to search engines, add your website to online directories, create banner ads, prepare and send email newsletters, etc. Since VAs make their livings online, many of them keep abreast of the latest trends in online marketing.

5. Customer Response
Use a Virtual Assistant’s services to keep existing and potential customers happy and returning. A VA can effectively and efficiently handle customer questions and complaints in an appropriate manner. By providing your customers with a timely, helpful response, a VA can help you build a stronger relationship with your customers.

6. Event Planning
Nothing is better than a well-planned event. Enlisting the help of a Virtual Assistant in coordinating your seminars and company functions can take a tremendous amount of burden off your shoulders, allowing for stress-free coordination of your events. They can make arrangements for the location, speakers, catering, photography, etc- and notify the attendees, too.

7. Internet Research
A Virtual Assistant can efficiently perform internet research, consolidating the information you seek and saving you both time and money. A VA can use their extensive research skills to your benefit, providing you with incredible value by investigating requested topics and providing the results in the desired format.

8. Calendar Management
Managing a busy schedule effectively doesn’t happen by chance. Team with a Virtual Assistant to help you stay atop of important dates, appointments, contacts and events. They can help you stay organized and prepared each day, with minimal effort on your part, reminding you of obligations and events ahead of time.

9. Project Management
Large and small projects alike can be managed by a Virtual Assistant. A VA can keep your project on track by organizing and coordinating resources, objectives, deliverables, etc. They can relieve the everyday stress of project management while ensuring that deadlines are met and progress continues.

Unsecured Start Up Loans For Small Business

First-time small business owners usually are chary of unsecured start up loans. This is because the time frame for making a profit is not definite whether or not there is a properly thought out and lucrative business plan in place for the future business.

When profits or revenues do not materialize per plans, as in most cases, there is danger of default on loan repayment. When this happens credit rating of the person involved gets degraded as unsecured loans are granted on the basis of credit and borrowing history of the business owner.

And if there is bad credit history behind, he/she can very well forget that small business loan. Let’s discuss some more aspects of unsecured small business start up loans.

Some Facts

If the credit history of ‘to be’ small business owner is good, unsecured start-up business loans are easier to avail as compared to other business loans. But it is better to go for secured loans against property or equipment affiliated with the business.

Secured loan not only keeps personal credit rating intact but poses lesser risks for the business owners, because they can use the hypothecated equipment to generate a profit for the business. As a result the loan can be paid back on time. Not just that, secured loans are for longer tenure and come with lesser interest rate burden, thereby lowering the cost of loan.

But if you have decided to apply for unsecured small business start-up loans, you should be careful about the requested amount. Remember, the more you owe on the loan (including interest), the more will be the money which you have to repay.

If you are not exactly sure how well the business will do in the first year and want to keep your credit rating good, it is best to request a small amount for your unsecured start-up business loan. This will make sure that repayment installments are small and if you are punctual in repaying, you can always ask for more, which will be gladly given.

Before you apply for an unsecured business start-up loan, there are several things that you should keep in mind.

First of all, you will need to convince the lender that it is a good decision to issue the loan to you. Since unsecured loans are based on your credit and repayment history, you will have to convince lenders that you can handle your personal finances in an organized fashion. Good credit record will put lenders at ease since they will be able to see your repayment history on your credit report.

Since lenders will be looking at your credit report, you should maintain a positive report as far as possible. If you know that you owe certain lenders, you should try to settle these debts or set up a payment plan with your creditors. This will be visible on your report.

Before you make any final decisions about unsecured start-up loans for business, be sure to speak to an accountant or a representative from your local bank. This will make sure that you are applying for the right loans which would help your business to develop quickly and steadily. You must not take a decision unless you are convinced.

Undoubtedly, the internet can make the difference between a successful small business and one ignored by customers. Due to the global nature of the Internet surpassing physical frontiers between nations, and even making it unnecessary to use printed business cards when they can easily be hosted online.

Web presence can make small businesses more competitive from any angle, allowing you to understand new trends, as well as discover opportunities and problems without wasting time. A small business with Internet presence improves your opportunity to connect with a number of suppliers and customers that otherwise might not be possible in your local area.

Furthermore, traditional printed business cards including an Internet address, not only opens a new range of possibilities to succeed, but also is a way to increase your communications, showing an appealing professional appearance, no matter how big or small your business or company is actually. Magnetic business cards often create a long-lasting marketing image.

In fact, you will be surprised to see prospective clients seeking what they want through search engines. Others might check for URLs in business cards instead of browsing the printed yellow pages, because a web presence translates is synonym to having a shop or booth in every corner of the world, where every individual or small business can have the same presence as the big enterprises.

Of course, budget, skills, knowledge and other Internet resources determine the performance of every small business online. However, it will always be beneficial to develop your business web presence if you want to get customers from every location around the world or, as a practical alternative, you can create online business cards for you, your partners and employees.

On the Internet, you will find a number of websites offering both services, development of your web presence and creating your online business cards, ranging from low-mid prices to those unaffordable for people who are just starting a new business venture. However, you do not need a big budget to start.

There are a number of free Web hosting services that will gladly give you web space to develop your presence. If you have no idea how to create a website, they usually have facilities called online tools or web site builders, allowing you to create a nice looking page with just a small amount of information regarding your small business, products and services.

If you do not feel comfortable with those tools, there are other options for you. If you want to create only a business card that looks like real printed business cards, you can always get free or cheap web templates, coming in a variety of designs and only requiring your information to be uploaded, which will create your web presence instantly.