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Chris Brogan says the Most Successful Small Businesses Do THIS #investor #business #daily

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Chris Brogan says the Most Successful Small Businesses Do THIS

Many people work 9-to-5 jobs for 30 years — praying only for the day they can retire.

And they complain the whole time on Facebook about how much they hate their jobs.

Yuck! I can’t fathom that.

I love working for successful small businesses. And luckily, I don’t have a regular job.

But what does it take to REALLY succeed as an entrepreneur?

Chris Brogan says the Most Successful Small Businesses Do This

And during a recent interview with MSNBC, Chris dropped some serious knowledge about staying weird making your customers feel like they belong to your tribe.

Pay attention here:

One of Brogan’s best small business tips is that you’ll attract opportunities by standing out being different.

Follow outgoing examples from free-spirited entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, he says.

Here are 4 other juicy nuggets from this stellar interview:

1. Business is About Belonging

People want to be part of a tribe or community.

2. Share the Passion Not Just the Product

Passion drives folks to do what they love. How can you leverage that passion for your business?

3. Make Your Buyer the Hero

Discuss how your product or service makes your customers heroes — not too promotional, though.

4. Tell Their Story, Not Yours

Our product helped Johnny make $100k this year.





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The World – s Coolest Business Card Holder – Smart Armor Tech #register #business

#business card holder

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The World s Coolest Business Card Holder

Business card holders – who really puts a lot of thought into these? Well, people who work in offices certainly do. Patrick Bateman most certainly does. If you are in a sales capacity, I can’t imagine you not keeping a few business cards always at the ready. There are even professions that are essentially a part of sales that some employees don’t know. If you are in a customer facing position, or are adept at speaking persuasively to strangers you meet at the grocery store about the product or service your company provides, you are in sales! So that means that even you need to start carrying some business cards.

If you are going to carry business cards, you will need a good place to keep them. A wallet is not adequate for carrying a large number of business cards, not to mention that wallets are often very hard on whatever is placed within them. Your beautiful business cards will have folded corners, lint, and ink smudges pretty soon. Business card boxes are the way to go.

There are tons of styles to consider when buying a business card holder for men or women. The Best Wallet 2015 website has a great updated list for some of the world’s coolest business card holders. The styles range from soft to hard, leather to metal, and all are sleek and stylish in their own way. We are biased, but we think the Smart Armor Safe would make the best business card holder for men. It’s tough enough to protect your business cards, and opens up via Bluetooth for a cool and dramatic presentation!

So, have you checked the business card holder list? http://bestwallet2015.com/beautiful-best-business-card-holder-for-men/
Which is your favorite and what qualities do you look for in a business card holder? Please comment below.

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What is Smart Armor®?

Smart Armor® is an IOT company that provides Bluetooth enabled micro-locking systems integrated into valuable physical objects controlled via mobile device.

Our Products





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Business Partners The Appointment Group #business #consulting

#business partners

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Business Partners

Hedge Fund Association

The Hedge Fund Association is a non-profit international group of professionals with a mission to provide a forum for thought leaders, innovators, practitioners and investors who are shaping the way business is conducted in the global hedge fund industry. We advocate for the industry by giving voice to the issues through the education of investors, the media, regulators and legislators. Our Members also serve the community at large through a commitment to philanthropy.

The Association of Celebrity Assistants (ACA)

The Association of Celebrity Assistants, ACA-UK, is a non-profit organisation created and used by Personal Assistants working for high profile individuals from the worlds of film, TV, theatre, music, luxury goods, fashion, beauty, charity, business, politics, art and sport.

We offer members a confidential environment in which to meet, exchange ideas, share information, give advice and post jobs. Our website, www.aca-uk.com. provides information on membership, the ACA-UK’s partners, and our latest press coverage.

Purple Frog Marketing

Finding the remarkable in your business to create change in the way people think about your brand, products and services. Purple Frog, creativity tempered with evaluation and strategic insight; delivering effective and ingenious ideas. So if you want simple, brave communications, strategic campaigns or digital thinking – Purple Frog pushes the boundaries and makes your business noticeable, not invisible.

For more information on how Purple Frog can help your advertising communications, web digital marketing and campaign planning please visit www.purplefrog.co.uk

Keith Prowse

We believe the experience of a lifetime takes a lifetime of experience. And we’ve been creating memorable moments at some of the world’s premier sporting, social and cultural events for more than two centuries. As the UK’s leading corporate hospitality and tours provider, and official supplier to many iconic venues, our customers and their guests enjoy exclusive access to the best facilities. We’re passionate about delivering the ultimate experience, guaranteeing any sporting spectacle or cultural event is one to remember.

For more information on Keith Prowse please click here





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The Most Important Local Business Directories for SEO #home #based #business

#business directories

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September 24th, 2012

We ve updated this post for 2016. Check it out here.

While many of your potential customers search Google for information on local services, inevitably a large portion of them find their way to a local business directory. Many of these directories not only have substantial brands/marketing budgets to drive traffic, but they also do well in organic search rankings for important search terms. So even if you can’t get your site ranked high for a specific search term, you can appear on the local directory site that ranks for that term. Perhaps even more important is that links to your site and mentions of your business (aka “Local Citations”) can help your site rank well in both “national” organic search as well as in the Google Places results (I still can’t bring myself to say the “Google+ Local” results).

So with this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to provide a list of the best local business directories for your SEO efforts. While other sites have put together similar lists, invariably they focus on a grab-bag of sites, many of which are irrelevant. We wanted to go for only those that are truly important and worth spending time on.

We have divided them into two lists:

  1. The Largest Local Business Directories in the US
  2. The Top U.S. Local Citation Sources

The 55 Largest Local Business Directories in the US
These local directory sites, according to Compete.com, have the largest amount of traffic and are listed by size largest first. In cases where the site is more than a directory, such as Mapquest, we have tried to estimate what % of their traffic goes to the directory. Improving your presence on these directories means your business will be exposed to a wide audience of local searchers.

Top U.S. Local Directory Citation Sources
GetListed.org and Whitespark.ca recently released some amazing data on the top local citation sources by city and by category. We thought it would be interesting to take that data and determine which directories on average had the most citation influence in the entire country. While it’s good to focus on your service area and category for citation building, in most cases, regardless of your location or industry, these are the sites you should almost always include while citation-building.

While a number of expected brands made the list, Facebook and YouTube are perhaps the two biggest surprises here. Then again, they are two of the biggest sites in the world and each has local business content, so perhaps it’s no surprise that they would emerge as important citation sources.

How does your business appear on all these sites? Click here to scan your business. It s fast and free.

Andrew Shotland is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide. a SEO consultancy focused on enterprise search engine optimization for local media properties and multi-location businesses. He also has a new blog about Apple Maps .





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Small Business Grants: The Facts and the Fiction #best #business

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Small Business Grants: The Facts and the Fiction

I say for the most part because government grants for small businesses do exist, but the opportunity to secure one is limited to a narrow field of candidates.

Here’s what you need to know about government grants for small businesses, who is eligible to receive them, and how to go about getting them.

What grants are available?

Before diving into the types of government grants available to small businesses, let’s start by establishing what the government does not provide grants for.

The federal government doesn’t provide grants for any of the following activities:

  • Starting and expanding a business
  • Paying off debt
  • Covering operational expenses

However—and here’s the twist—the federal government does award grants to small businesses in certain fields and industries (for example, scientific, environmental, and medical research). The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, for example, is one of the most lucrative sources of federal grants for high-tech startups or high-growth firms (more on SBIR below).

The reason why federal grants are largely off-limits to small businesses is that they are funded by our tax dollars and appropriated through Congress and The White House. Fund allocations are tightly controlled and only awarded to business endeavors that are closely tied to the agenda of a particular government agency, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Energy.

Outside Washington, things don’t get much better. Although some state and local government agencies do award small business grants—which they often call discretionary inventive grants —these state grants are also closely aligned to agency objectives and tend to be limited to larger companies.

How to find and apply for small business grants

If you think your business may qualify for a grant, the resources below can help you with your search:

Federal grants

Grants.gov is Uncle Sam’s central repository and searchable database of over 1,000 different grant programs. To narrow down your search to small business grants, navigate to the “Browse Eligibilities” tab and select “Small Businesses”.

State and local grants

Contact your state economic development agency for information about discretionary incentive grants.

Corporate and nonprofit grants

Small business grants are also available from select nonprofits (WomensNet. for example) and corporations, such as the Intuit “Love our Local Business ” campaign.

SBIR grants for R D businesses

As mentioned above, if your small business is engaged in research and development (R D), you may be eligible for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. SBIR is a federal program, overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), that awards grants and government contracts to stimulate high-tech innovation and grow the economy by supporting the R D necessary to develop and commercialize innovative technological products. In 2010, SBIR awarded approximately $2 billion in research funds, with more than half the awards going to businesses that employed fewer than 25 people.

While the eligibility criteria for an SBIR grant is pretty straightforward—businesses need to be more than 50 percent American-owned, located in the U.S. and have fewer than 500 employees—securing a grant requires some effort. First, you’ll need to prove that your efforts are aligned with federal R D goals by searching advertised agency solicitations on the SBIR website. Next, submit a proposal outlining the technical merits and benefits of your venture. If you are successful, you’ll then enter a phased R D process. You can read more about this phased approach on SBIR.gov .

The bottom line

Hopefully this information cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about small business government grants.

If you need an injection of capital, don’t waste your time falling for the promises of late-night “free government money” infomercials, and instead use your energies to investigate other sources of financing.

If you don’t qualify for a bank loan, consider an SBA loan, which can be easier to secure than a standard bank loan. An SBA loan is funded with money that comes indirectly from the SBA—first the SBA makes a guaranteed loan to your bank, which then makes a small business loan to you, the business owner. This approach allows the bank to take on a little more risk than they otherwise might be able to afford.

This article is part of our Business Funding Guide. fund your business today, with Bplans.

How LivePlan makes your business more successful

If you re writing a business plan you’re in luck. Online business planning software makes it easier than ever before to put together a business plan for your business.

As you ll see in a moment LivePlan is more than just business plan software though. It s a knowledgable guide combined with a professional designer coupled with a financial wizard. It ll help you get over the three most common business hurdles with ease.

Let s take a look at those common hurdles and see how producing a top notch business plan sets your business up for success.





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21 places to find the best free images for your business #business #studies

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21 places to find the best free images for your business

In the age of content marketing. high quality images are becoming increasingly important.

But for many small business owners, taking top-notch photos, or even paying someone else to take them, is too costly.

One alternative is to find beautiful images that can be used without a fee and that’s where the numerous online collections of free images come in.

We’ve rounded up 21 places to find free images to give your business’s marketing an edge.

But first a quick reminder: always check to make sure that the image you are downloading is available to use and whether you need to attribute the source.

If the photo is in the public domain, it is no longer under copyright and free for public use. Alternatively, if an artist has shared their photos under a Creative Commons license, there may be restrictions on how you can use the image, for what purposes and if you need to provide attribution.

Unsplash has one of the best collections of free, high-resolution images going around and 10 new photos are added every day. On Unsplash you’ll find beautiful photos of architecture, landscapes and flora and fauna.

All photos and videos on Pixabay are available under a Creative Commons licence and can be used for commercial projects. The database is searchable by category or content type.

At Crow the Stone, you’ll have access to beautiful images that wouldn’t be out of place in an exhibition at an art gallery. No attribution is required for these images and you can sign up to receive new images in your inbox each week.

If it’s culinary imagery you’re after, try FoodiesFeed, a database of realistic images of a wide variety of food. Paid subscriptions to premium images are available and you can sign up to receive 20 foodie photos a month.

For businesses in the professional services field, Startup Stock Photos could be worth a look. This database is made up of completely free technology and startup themed photos.

Death of the Stock Photo is a membership-based photo library that aims to be “just like coffee for the modern creative”. Once a member, you’ll have access to high-quality photos that you can do with whatever you please.

Cupcake is the creation of photographer Jonas Wimmerstrom and all the images on the site are available under a Creative Commons licence, including for commercial projects. No attribution is required, although this talented photographer says people are welcome to let him know where his images are being used.

Does your marketing project have a particular colour scheme? Negative Space is one of a number of free image databases that can be searched by colour. All images are available under a Creative Commons licence with no copyright restrictions.

Find A Photo combines free images from a range of other photo libraries, including Unsplash and Startup Stock Photos. Similar to Negative Space, this database is also searchable by colour.

The images available from Freerange Stock are created by an in-house team as well as contributing photographers, who can earn income from advertising on the site. All images are free to use, however, you must sign up to the site to get access.

Get Refe’s aim is to “help organisations and individuals bring ideas to life in a memorable way” by providing high-quality, natural images of people interacting with technology. You can browse through the site’s collection of free images or pay a small fee to receive monthly packs of curated images.

A favourite in the SmartCompany office, Pexels offers more than 5000 free images under a Creative Commons Zero license – which means all images are completely free for personal and commercial use. Around 600 new images a month are added to the database, which includes high-quality images of work environments, people, animals and nature – and just about everything in between.

Does your project need a vintage image? Try New Old Stock. This site is a collection of vintage photos that are in the public domain and therefore free of copyright restrictions.

Another great source for free historical images are public libraries. For example, the State Library of Victoria maintains a pool of around 200,000 photos, illustrations and maps that are either out of copyright or available for use.

For free colourful and quirky images, try Gratisography. All of the photos on this site were taken by photographer Ryan McGuire and are free to use. However, McGuire says he takes better photos when he is caffeinated and so will happily take PayPal donations to his Creative Coffee Fund.

ImageFinder started out as a search engine for images on Flickr that are licensed under Creative Commons, however, the site now also searches Creative Commons licensed images from other stock sites. Think of ImageFinder as directory for free images; you’ll need to download the photos from their original source and check if attribution is required.

PicJumbo is home to 15 categories of completely free images that can be used for both personal and commercial projects. Like many sites that provide free images, you can sign up to receive notifications when new images are available or pay to access premium image collections.

IM Creator not only provides a curated selection of free images – you’ll also find other free marketing tools on this site, including website templates, icons and buttons.

MMT is a collection of vibrant photos from photographer Jeffrey Betts, which are all available for commercial use under a Creative Commons Zero license.

If you’re looking for high-quality, creative images of a New York street scape or European landmarks, Picography may be for you. All photos are available under a Creative Commons Public Domain license.

As its name suggests, Public Domain Archive is a repository for public domain photos. The photos are divided into modern and vintage photos and new images are added each week.





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Advertising: The Basics #at #home #businesses

#small business advertising

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Think you have a great product? Unfortunately, no one’s going to know about it unless you advertise.

Advertising, if done correctly, can do wonders for your product sales, and you know what that means: more revenue and more success for your business. But be warned: it is not a panacea.

Below you will find a list of what advertising can and can’t do for your business, along with the steps you can take to start using advertising to your business’s advantage.

What Advertising Can Do For Your Business

Remind customers and inform prospective customers about the benefits of your product or service

Establish and maintain your distinct identity

Enhance your reputation

Encourage existing customers to buy more of your product/service

Attract new customers and replace lost ones

Slowly build sales to boost your bottom line

Promote your business to customers, investors, and others

What Advertising Cannot Do For Your Business

Create an instant customer base

Cause an immediate, sharp increase in sales

Solve cash flow or profit problems

Substitute for poor or indifferent customer service

Sell useless or unwanted products or services

Two Important Virtues of Advertising

You have complete control. Unlike public-relations efforts, you determine exactly where, when and how often your message will appear, how it will look and what it will say. You can target your audience more readily and aim at very specific geographic areas.

You can be consistent. Presenting your company’s image and sales message repeatedly to build awareness and trust. A distinctive identity will eventually become clearly associated with your company. Customers will recognize your brand and product quickly and easily if you’re consistent in presentation.

Two Drawbacks of Advertising

It takes planning. Advertising works best and costs the least when the planning and preparation are done in advance. For example, you’ll pay less per ad in newspapers and magazines by agreeing to run several ads over time rather than deciding on an issue-by-issue basis. Likewise, you can save money by preparing a number of ads at once.

It takes time and persistence. The effectiveness of your advertising improves gradually over time because it’s impossible for every customer to see every ad. You must repeatedly remind prospects and customers about the benefits of doing business with you. The long-term effort triggers recognition and helps special offers or direct marketing payoff.

Getting Ready to Advertise

Use the following steps to help draw a blueprint for your business’s advertising plan:

1. Design the Framework

What is the purpose of your advertising program? Start by defining your company’s long-range goals, then map out how marketing can help attain them. Focus on advertising routes complementary to your marketing efforts. Set measurable goals so you can evaluate the success of your advertising campaign. For example, do you want to increase overall sales by 20 percent this year? Boost sales to existing customers by 10 percent during each of the next three years? Appeal to younger or older buyers? Sell off old products to free resources for new ones?

How much can you afford to invest? Keep in mind that whatever amount you allocate will never seem like enough. Even giants such as Proctor Gamble and Pepsi always feel they could augment their advertising budgets. Given your income, expenses, and sales projections, simple addition and subtraction can help you determine how much you can afford to invest. Some companies spend a full 10 percent of their gross income on advertising, others just 1 percent. Research and experiment to see what works best for your business.

2. Fill in the Details

What are the features and benefits of your product or service? When determining features, think of automobile brochures that list engine, body and performance specifications. Next, and more difficult, determine the benefits those features provide to your customers. How does your product or service actually help them? For example, a powerful engine helps a driver accelerate quickly to get onto busy freeways.

Who is your audience? Create a profile of your best customer. Be as specific as possible, as this will be the focus of your ads and media choices. A restaurant may target adults who dine out frequently in the nearby city or suburban area. A computer software manufacturer may aim at information managers in companies with 10-100 employees. A bottled water company may try to appeal to athletes or people over 25 who are concerned about their health.

Who is your competition? It’s important to identify your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what your competition offers that you lack – and vice versa – helps you show prospects how your product or service is special and why they should do business with you instead of someone else. Knowing your competition will also help you find a niche in the marketplace.

3. Arm Yourself with Information

What do you know about your industry, market and audience? There are many sources of information to help you keep in touch with industry, market and buying trends without conducting expensive market research. Examples include U.S. Government materials from the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce. Public, business or university libraries are also a good option, as are industry associations, trade publications, and professional organizations. You can quickly and easily learn more about your customers by simply asking them about themselves, their buying preferences, and media habits. Another (more expensive) alternative is to hire a professional market research firm to conduct your research.

4. Build Your Action Plan – Evaluating Media Choices

Your next step is to select the advertising vehicles you will use to carry your message and establish an advertising schedule. In most cases, knowing your audience will help you choose the media that will deliver your sales message most effectively. Use as many of the above tools as are appropriate and affordable. You can stretch your media budget by taking advantage of co-op advertising programs offered by manufacturers. Although programs vary, generally the manufacturer will pay for a portion of media space, time costs or mailer production charges up to a fixed amount per year. The total amount contributed is usually based on the quantity of merchandise you purchase.

When developing your advertising schedule, be sure to take advantage of any special editorial or promotional coverage planned in the media you select. Newspapers, for example, often run special sections featuring real estate, investing, home and garden improvement, and tax advice. Magazines also often focus on specific themes in each issue.

5. Using Other Promotional Avenues

Advertising extends beyond the media described above. Other options include imprinting your company name and graphic identity on pens, paper, clocks, calendars and other giveaway items for your customers. Put your message on billboards, inside buses and subways, on vehicle and building signs, on point-of-sale displays and on shopping bags.

You might co-sponsor events with nonprofit organizations and advertise your participation, attend or display at consumer or business trade shows, create tie-in promotions with allied businesses, distribute newsletters, conduct seminars, undertake contests or sweepstakes, send advertising flyers along with billing statements, use telemarketing to generate leads for salespeople, or develop sales kits with brochures, product samples, and application ideas.

The number of promotional tools used to deliver your message and repeat your name is limited only by your imagination and your budget.

The Advertising Campaign

You are ready for action when armed with knowledge of your industry, market and audience, have a media plan and schedule, know your product or service’s most important benefits, and have measurable goals in terms of sales volume, revenue generated and other criteria.

The first step is to establish the theme that identifies your product or service in all of your advertising. The theme of your advertising reflects your special identity or personality and the particular benefits of your product or service. For example, cosmetics ads almost always rely on a glamorous theme. Many food products opt for healthy, all-American family campaigns. Automobile advertising frequently concentrates on how the car makes you feel about owning or driving it rather than performance attributes.

Tag lines reinforce the single most important reason for buying your product or service. “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” (John Deere farm vehicles) conveys performance and endurance with a nice twist on the word deer. “Ideas at Work” (Black Decker tools and appliances) again signifies performance, but also shows reliability and imagination. “How the Smart Money Gets that Way” (Barron’s financial publication) clearly connotes prosperity, intelligence and success.

Comparing Advertising and Public Relations





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Free business advertising for businesses in the UK #new #business

#free business advertising

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FreeIndex for Businesses

Free advertising that really works!

Get found online and win new business

FreeIndex receives over 2.5 million page views every month.

Every UK business regardless of size or budget can win business and gain new customers for FREE by advertising on FreeIndex. You’ll get your own page and your own traffic.

Yes – it really is FREE, and over 1,500 testimonials shows you that it really works. For more info on how it’s free click here .

Free Business Leads

The ONLY site in the UK to send you FREE business leads

Once you’ve registered. we’ll send you genuine business leads by email and text message for free.

You can choose which types of leads you want to be notified about.

Every month, around 2 million worth of new business is generated through the FreeIndex MultiQuote system.

No one else provides businesses with FREE leads.

Create an amazing business profile

Your FreeIndex business profile is your shop window to the world, giving potential customers all the information they need to choose your business.

You can add all kinds of information to your profile including photos and videos and you can make changes whenever you want.

You also get a free web address, and so if you haven’t got a website yet, your FreeIndex profile will do the job perfectly.

Collect and manage your customer reviews

80% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase

FreeIndex provides a perfect, independent platform for collecting and managing your customers’ comments.

Good reviews not only provide you with a powerful selling tool, but also boost your business up the rankings on FreeIndex.

You can also display your reviews on your own website using a range of tools we provide.

Optional Premium Membership

As requested by our members we have developed an optional Premium Membership package which gives you a highlighted listing, priority on business leads, no 3rd party Ads and other benefits helping you win more business.

Premium Membership is entirely optional and costs as little as 27p a day.

We will never hassle you to upgrade.

There really is no competition.

FreeIndex
Free local and national business advert
Free business leads
Free to add photos / videos
Free review management
Free website address
Free to respond to leads & no success fee
Free social media integration
No spam, no cold calls – guaranteed
No selling of your company data
No credit card required

Other Directories
Free local listing
Your own business page
Pay for page features
Pay for local and national coverage
Sales calls to upgrade
Sells your company data

Other Lead Gen Sites
Initial registration fee
Tie in to minimum contract
Charge for new job alerts
Charge to quote for work
Charge for access to contact details
% success fee of your profit





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The 6 Best Advertising Strategies For Small Business #stocks #to #watch

#business advertising

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The 6 Best Advertising Strategies For Small Business

Small business owners need to be realistic about their advertising campaigns. Typically, of course, they ll be looking for effective, low-cost solutions, but typically, too, you can have just one or the other; you re unlikely to find a simultaneously effective and inexpensive channel for your ads.

That s why you absolutely must budget for advertising, not just play with the money you have left over. By assigning the right amount of money to the right channels, you can get the results you want, or at the least, improve the results you have, based on the data you gather along the way. Since your monthly spend will be consistent, you ll be better able to measure overall efficacy, too.

Given your need to optimize your advertising efforts, then, here are the best advertising strategies for small businesses.

1. Target your audience.

Sorry, but that particular product or service you re touting does not match the needs of anyone who currently walks the Earth. Many small businesses don t run adequately targeted campaigns, despite the fact that targeting is one of online advertising s primary advantages.

Indeed, you should be able to create an accurate target customer profile based on the data you ve collected. With this information in hand, and what you know about your current clientele, you can begin to target similar demographics and psychographics with your campaigns to attract more customers.

Whether you re advertising online or off, make sure your copy and imagery reflects the kind of customers you want to work with. This is key to targeting well.

2. Measure and track your advertising.

Many small businesses simply have no idea whether their advertising is actually working. This simply won t do.

Online advertising platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook provide you with extensive stats related to your ads, and will help you determine what is working and what isn t. This doesn t mean that you won t need to test and experiment, as it can take time for you to create an ad that resonates with your target customers, but it does mean that you can make faster decisions about what to try next.

If you re advertising offline, and you have to set up a specific email address or phone number to gain a clearer understanding of how your leads are finding you and what s working, then that effort is worth the hassle. Stop making guesses.

3. Know when to advertise.

At first glance, advertising year-round and spreading out your budget equally month-to-month may appear to be a wise and commonsense approach.

But if you think back to your business launch, odds are you did a lot of things that can t be scaled. There s no way for you to sustain a similar marketing and advertising initiative throughout the entire year.

If you sell seasonal products, you should be advertising in your highest-performing seasons. You may even want to start a little bit early and hold some of your advertising until a little after.

Black Friday and Christmas tend to be high-performing seasons, depending on the type of business you re running. It may be advantageous to set aside some extra ad money for these days and/or other holidays.

Finally, it can also be worthwhile to keep an eye on when your competitors launch their own big promotions. If you have an advertising budget set aside, you may be able to keep pace or even outmaneuver them.

4. Brand well.

Can your customers immediately identify your ads based on your copy, color choice, imagery, logo or typeface? If that question seems absurd, just look at what the major brands and companies are doing. Oftentimes, you can recognize their ads just from the colors they re using.

Over time, your customers will come to identify with and respond to your ad layouts. The temptation may be to change your branding every time you create a new ad, but that could be confusing and ineffective over the long haul. Your goal should be to show up in expected places, with familiar-looking ads that consistently resonate with your target customers.

Bottom line: Brand well, and stick to your image. Build loyalty through resonance.

5. Use your resources well.

You know the importance of ranking well in search, but you may simply not have the resources and time to consistently create new, informative content for your website.

In an instance like that, your best bet is to take advantage of services like Google AdWords and Bing Ads, so you appear higher in SERP results without having to optimize posts for your chosen keywords. If you have the budget to advertise, but not the time to create content, this is a good use of resources.

If you only have a small budget to allocate to advertising, it may not make sense to take out an expensive magazine ad. A Facebook ad campaign would be much more practical, since you can control your daily spend.

Make an honest assessment of the resources available to you, and leverage them in a way that helps you grow your business.

6. Show up in the right places.

It s dangerous to make too many assumptions about your target customer. For example, if there s a certain radio show that you like, and you assume that your customers like it too, you may be misinformed about the wisdom of spending money on a radio ad there that could prove expensive and ineffective.

If your advertising dollars are going to the wrong place, you re wasting your money. Instead, you need to get to know your customers. So, survey them. Get a sense of where they like to hang out online, what books and magazines they read, what podcast and radio shows they listen to and so on.

When your advertising is matched with the right understanding of your customers, you ll begin to attract more worthwhile leads to your business.

Final thoughts

There are plenty of opportunities to monetize through advertising. The key is in knowing who your target customers are, where they like to hang out — and thus where to find more people like them — and allocating your resources to those specific channels.

Advertising is not set-and-forget. You need to be strategic in the way you approach it, and amplify your marketing at the right times.





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How to Find the Right Business Partner for Your Startup #sba #financing

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How to Find the Right Business Partner for Your Startup

Starting a business is notoriously difficult, and going it alone can make those challenges even harder to overcome. That s why many entrepreneurs choose to launch their company with one or more business partners who can help lighten the load.

Finding good business partners is critical to success, said Sherry Fox, co-founder and chairman of LumiWave. There are many different types of partners, from someone who works with you side by side to build your business, to individuals or companies who contribute in specific areas, such as marketing, engineering, etc. Every person or entity that interacts with your business is a partner in some way and affects your ability to succeed.

I believe there is strength in numbers, added Carlo Ruggiero, co-founder of the U.S. branch of European pizza franchise Kono Pizza. When multiple partners share the same vision, the result is a stronger and more unified team.

But you can t just choose anyone to be your partner; you need to be able to work with that person day in, day out, and both of you must be able to focus on the business s objectives.

Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software. likened a business partnership to a marriage. Your partner is such an important piece of [your] success, and many times, bad partnerships lead to bad business, she said.

If you need a partner but aren t sure where to start, here s how to find, evaluate and work with a prospective business partner. [See Related Story:Choosing a Business Partner? 4 Qualities to Look For]

Look to your network first

Our expert sources agreed that an entrepreneur s connections are the best candidates for potential business partners.

Reaching out to your professional network can provide a rich list, said Jon Weston, CEO of LumiWave and Fox s business partner. I ve received good information and direction from the diaspora of my [previous] companies. General networks or online community groups are too anonymous to find good feedback.

Referrals from trusted colleagues also can be helpful, Fox added. However, Weston cautioned that you should gauge the person making the referral before considering his or her recommendation.

Evaluating a business partner

Once you ve found someone who could be a great potential business partner, how do you evaluate whether that person is truly the right fit? One of your first considerations should be how your personalities, backgrounds, values and experiences complement each other.

While you want a partner that will work well with your culture and style, you don t want a clone, either you want a partner who can fill in the gaps, Weston said. That is the tension you need to look for.

Similarly, Ruggiero said he and his co-founders, David Ragosa and Greg Kinlaw, needed the right combination of personalities and skills to succeed.

[Our] differences allow us to approach each situation in multiple ways, he told Business News Daily. David and I are the go-getters. Greg provides a great balance he is an expert at taking our crazy ideas and making sure we have the numbers to back them. We are constantly learning from each other and are able to use these exchanges to positively influence our business.

However, getting along well isn t enough to ensure a successful partnership. No matter how well you know your potential partner, you re still running a business and thus need to take the appropriate precautions to ensure that any partnership is a smart decision. Weston noted that thoroughly researching your partner is an important part of this process.

Do your due diligence, Weston said. You can do a lot [by] just Googling. Most people and organizations leave a digital trail. Dive into the legal databases. Ask for references, but also research any clients they have worked with or been associated with, and contact them.

Fox agreed, noting that you should vet a partner carefully with all sources available, such as LinkedIn, company websites and former partners. Parsons also advised formally interviewing a prospective partner to better understand his or her skill set.

Finally, before you sign any legal agreements, you must understand how you and your partner will handle a variety of business situations. This is something to discuss at length during your evaluation phase.

Make very clear [written] agreements that take into consideration what happens when things go well and when things go poorly, Parsons said.

Talk openly and frankly about who you are and what you want, Fox added. Spend significant time exchanging ideas and concepts, [and] understand their. short-term and long-term [goals]. Do you agree on the end game?

Making a partnership work

Think you ve found the perfect business partner? Based on their experiences, our sources offered a few pieces of advice for a fruitful and productive partnership.

Define your respective roles. Clearly defining your roles within the company ensures that each partner s time is spent effectively, Ruggiero said. This will prevent partners from stepping on each other s toes and will ultimately save the company money.

Measure your success. Fox recommended that potential business partners work together on a trial basis to test out how well the partnership might work.Set up some parameters and milestones, and make sure what you thought about the potential partner is reality, she said. From there, conduct frequent reviews to make sure you are still on the same page.

Communication is key. Constant honest and open communication is a must. When problems arise, they need to be solved by both (or all) business partners. Ruggiero reminded entrepreneurs that at some point, each partner will make a mistake, and you cannot be afraid to bring it up. Each partner needs to do what s best for the business, he said, and part of doing this is eliminating any negative emotions to avoid a dispute if someone points out a mistake.

Trust your gut. If something doesn t feel right, it probably isn t. Weston recalled little red flags that popped up in conversations with potential partners.

Some things don t quite mesh or add up in the back of your mind. Trust this, he said. It is easier to walk away and be picky than pick up the pieces later.

Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Nicole Fallon Taylor

Nicole received her Bachelor s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email. or follow her on Twitter .

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