marketing

Should you Become an Online Entrepreneur?

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Should you become an Online Enterpreneur?

Hundreds and thousands of people are starting succesful online entrepeneurships in their own homes this year, so why shouldn’t you? All you need to start your online business is your computer, some marketing and negotiating skills, and gathering a few websites where you can find demand for your product, right?

Well, not so easy cowboy. Not trying to scare you out of it, but there is a high margin of error and you are sure to have very high competition unless you are coming to the table with an original product. In this article, we will explain reasons to why you should and why should not start an online entrepreneurship.

1 – You have entrepreneurship in your blood, and you know it

Are you the guy to come up with a cool idea, and can’t wait to tell others? Do you know how to make something totally unprofitable into something explosively profitable? Do you have a knack for convincing people into joining your causes and accepting your ideas? Do you consider yourself a master of negotiation and persuasion? Then online entrepreurships will be the thing you will be looking for because you are able to reach hundreds of people at the same time with the same convincing message of yours.

2 – You are a very good marketer and project manager

On the Internet, you can start making money online just with the fact that you are capable of gathering and organizing people to complete a task. Hundreds of Web Development, Data Entry, Marketing and Web Research Project Managers are now getting good money for just managing people via Instant Messaging and Conference software to complete a task. And there are the middle managers that get money for finding people to do a task.

One big requirement for either doing middle management or project management online is to have good social skills ( being able to convince people, empathize with your workers, negotiate and give the unmotivated ones a push ). Which leads to…

3 – You are a people person

If you are the enthusiastic guy who always has a joke, has a routine to make people laugh, can make them feel loved and wanted, and entertain a group, then online entreprenurship is the thing for you because people on the internet are not so heavy on socializing and exchanging information with people.

You will be able to market your products, employ people at good rates, and generally put a smile in your clients faces with your skills acquired in the real world. Being the guy that closes the deal gets more respect and attention than the guy that gets the work done, for sure.

4 – You are an idea person and you are creative

90% of  all the products marketed on the Internet are abstract (are either software, e-books, or anything that doesn’t have a psyhical stance) and if you are an idea person you will be able to get a good deal of money by simply bringing your ideas to reality.

 

How To Succeed In Local SEO

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If you’re a small business who hasn’t considered optimizing your site for local SEO, you’re missing out on the potential to reach an audience that’s practically at your doorstep. Starting a local SEO overhaul for your site and keywords might sound daunting, but it’s worth it when you see your rankings and sales increase. Here’s a quick guide on how to master local SEO.

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Start with your Website

Before you start focusing on keywords and citations, you need to make sure your website is one that is easily navigable for both people and search engine crawlers. If your website was designed in 2001, it probably needs a massive facelift. Search engines recognize when users don’t spend a lot of time on your site, which affects your rankings negatively. After you’ve done this, update the site regularly by posting valuable content so people will want to come back.

Customize your Keywords

Since your business is likely competing with larger businesses that have dominated general keywords, this is your chance to optimize your site for locally targeted keywords. For instance, if your business specializes in computer repair, instead of trying to compete with the keyword “computer repair,” change your optimization to “computer repair dallas.” This will narrow the focus to a smaller audience and your rankings won’t be buried by larger businesses.

Social Media is your Best Friend

Sites like Facebook and Twitter can seem foreign to those who don’t frequent social media, but they offer small businesses the chance to communicate their brand message on a more personal level. Don’t mistake social media for a channel to run promotions all day – communicating with customers and clients is the key to helping your rankings increase. Use these sites as an opportunity for sharing useful content or brand news with customers. The more valuable your information is, the more your followers will comment and share, which makes your relevance to search engines increase.

Utilize SEO Tools and Resources

Don’t feel like you’re expected to figure out how to climb the SERPs alone. There are plenty of local SEO resources out there to help you along the way. Google AdWords can help you research what keywords people in your area are searching for, which can help you better target your keywords to match. Google Alerts is a useful reputation management tool that can alert you when your brand is being talked about online. This can help with responding immediately to customer feedback, whether positive or negative.

Don’t underestimate the value of local SEO tactics for your business. By optimizing your website and making use of social media and local keywords, your rankings should see a dramatic and dynamic rise through the SERPs.

Website Applications Improved Through The Cloud

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Having fast application speeds isn’t just a bonus for today’s customer—it’s absolutely vital. Customers expect your applications to perform at a level that’s comparable to what they’re used to. If yours don’t meet their expectations, they can easily find an alternative that does. Taking advantage of the cloud is one affordable solution that small businesses have embraced to improve Web applications and step ahead of the competition.

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How it Works

For those who don’t know much about the technology involved, it’s worth offering a brief explanation of exactly how cloud computing functions. Local, in-house computers no longer have to be your sole operation systems. With the cloud, an entire network of computers orchestrates the running of your applications, offering better reliability and speed. The user only needs the cloud computing system’s interface software, typically just a Web browser, and your cloud’s network handles everything from there.

Benefits for your Brand

Businesses often forget that their brand image doesn’t just stop at the marketing campaign. One of the best ways to attract and maintain customers is by simply offering good service. Of course, this alone isn’t exactly the best business strategy, but service can often speak louder than social media. Faster services equal a positive brand image and sends the message that your company is innovative and on the cutting edge of modern technology.

What about Security?

With headlines about hacking and information lost due to server failures, it would be negligent not to ask questions about the security of cloud computing. According to CTO and cloud expert David Grimes, “Cloud computing is as secure as other forms of computing.” Cloud systems can be both public and private configurations, the latter of which eliminates many questions about security. They also offer security in the nature of their construction. If a physical computer fails, the virtual machine can automatically restart on another physical computer within a short time frame. This ensures resilience and reliable access to your important information.

Ahead of the Game

PC Mag contributor Samara Lynn claims it’s a myth that small businesses are flocking to the cloud. She cites a business survey conducted by Brother that revealed 42 percent of small business owners aren’t using the cloud for their business. Of course, this also means that the majority of small business owners are, in fact, using the cloud, just not for that specific purpose. However, adapting to this trend would put your business further ahead of the substantial 42 percent that simply makes do without the cloud. Since customers expect faster, better and more reliable services, this could give you a significant edge over the competition.

Taking Advantage of the Improvements

With its ongoing acceptance throughout the IT community, cloud computing is on its way to being the undisputed champion of today’s computing systems. Cloud databases offer efficiency that can’t be beat and at a cost that’s viable for small businesses on a budget. Because technology evolves at such a fast rate, it’s especially important not to delay when keeping up with new trends. Innovation often works by building off of the inventions and technologies of the past, so keeping up with current tech developments ensures a smoother transition into future progress.

Cloud Database Options

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Cloud databases offer flexible storage and application deployment, which allows businesses to customize the cloud to meet their needs. Whether you’re a mid-sized business or large firm, cloud databases offer data storage, data management and application development. Get inspired by some of these common ways to use the cloud, then customize these strategy to meet your own business needs.

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General Efficiency

When data is stored in the cloud, employees can work more efficiently, quickly navigating from one item to the next. Additional efficiency benefits include:

  • More staff time for pet projects: With troubleshooting, maintenance and upgrades in the cloud provider’s hands, all employees have more free time to work on important projects.
  • Easier collaboration: Employees can share, review and revise materials easily in the cloud, using change tracking, chat and messaging functions to discuss projects in the cloud space.
  • Group applications: With applications like email, calendaring, to-do lists, reporting and document creating grouped together in the cloud, employees can multitask more efficiently. Likewise, a cloud database hosting platform will have more compute power than in-house servers, leading to faster application launch and less time wasted.
  • Speedier search and response: Customer service employees can browse client requests, orders and history from the centralized cloud, leading to faster and more personalized customer care.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage offers database management, data sharing and remote backup to keep enterprise data safe and secure. Business options include the following:

  • Upgrade storage for less cost: Many companies’ local data centers are maxed out; switching to the cloud consolidates resources and saves money.
  • Movable data backup: Cloud storage allows business to store any type of data, regardless of format. You can move data from one private server to another or expand your storage space when needs change, maximizing enterprise flexibility and scalability.
  • Scale as you need to: Scalable cloud storage increases when business needs increase and decreases when circumstances change. Purchasing more space in the cloud comes at a lower price point than purchasing more in-house server space.

Cloud Applications

The cloud isn’t just a place for data storage; applications receive several boosts from migrating to the cloud. Choose from a suite of applications to build your cloud.

  • Automate processes: Clouds excel at automation, which frees up staff time to focus on projects that are more important. Automate reminders, mailings, scheduling and calendaring, reporting and much more. Additionally, employees use technology to manage needs, leading to a self-service way of getting work done. This leads to less drain on managers and other high-level employees, while maintaining workflow.
  • Deploy faster– Faster processing speeds help launch and run applications faster. Additionally, cloud servers may offer less downtime and higher rates of bandwidth to increase workflow.

Studies have indicated that applications and processes can receive a cost decrease of as much as 50 to 70 percent when migrated to the cloud. Such benefits allow businesses to more effectively budget resources, grow the business and perform at a higher level for reduced technology costs.

7 Tips To Successfully Rebrand Your Business

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7 Tips To Successfully Rebrand Your BusinessSo, you’re thinking of taking the image of your business in a new direction with a rebrand. Congratulations! It’s a big step, but it’s one that can pay off if done well. Maybe you’re hoping to announce changes in your product or service line, create an image that fits your marketplace better, or you just want to stand out from your competition. No matter why you decide to rebrand, consider these seven tips as a guide to a successful and positive rebranding process.

1. Do your Research

Take the time to learn what’s going on in the marketplace, as well as what your competitors are doing to become or stay successful. That’s easier said than done—if your business relies on digital marketing to capture and follow through on leads, there are free tools like Open Site Explorer you can use to make competitive research a little easier.

2. Plan, plan, plan

The best laid plans…often work out pretty well. Take the time to determine what you want your new brand to convey about your products and services, identify your target audience, and create a schedule to keep you on track from start to finish. Using a project calendar can help you and your team stay on schedule on everything from brand revisualization to public launch—consider Google’s free Calendar or Trello for easy sharing.

3. Expand your Vision

A successful brand is more than an image, but its conception often starts with visual elements like a logo. Use your research and planning to inform your vision. If you’re not visually inclined or you don’t have someone on staff to handle logo design, consult a professional to generate ideas or create a logo for you.

4. Get new Marketing Collateral

Even if you’re a primarily digital business you’ll need new print materials—from business cards to brochures. Services that offer design help often can also help you print all new materials with your new brand for a reasonable price.

5. Give yourself a Digital Facelift

Just as you’ll need new print materials, you’ll need to revamp your web presence as well. This is more than just your website: your social media accounts will have to be updated. Be sure to get your employees involved in the update: if they have social media accounts that represent your brand, be sure they also update their own profile information online.

6. Announce your new Rebrand—but do it Strategically

Unveiling a rebrand takes both time and patience. You want to be sure that your new and improved brand is given the attention to deserves. Would a soft reopening or update be better for your brand, or would you rather reach out to customers individually via email? Think about what will work best for you and your community.

7. Promote and Publicize

Once all the hard work has been done, it’s time to c
elebrate! You’ll have planned this part of the process, but it’s still important to be sure you’ve contacted all the right media outlets and done your own legwork, both online and off, to make sure people know about your rebranding. Take out a few ads, host a party for your customers or clients, and have fun!

Image credit: KROMKRATHOG on Freedigitalphotos.net

A Tale Of Two Entrepreneurs: Why A Small Business Should Use Cloud Computing

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This is the story of two entrepreneurs, Gus and Stan. Gus is an online retailer and a pretty slick guy who can figure out almost anything with time and the right references. Stan knows what he knows and he knows website design.

Gus decides he’s going to run his online business entirely on his own since he knows he can do it. By doing everything himself, he knows he’ll save money. Stan, however, decides to get some help since he knows he can’t do it all himself. He contacts a cloud hosting company and even though he knows it will cost him, he simply doesn’t have the know-how to do it himself.

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The Set-up

The two entrepreneurs happen to launch their businesses on the same day. Gus spends a few thousand dollars on a server and programs, and spends his first day reading manuals, installing programs, and setting up databases. By the end of the day, his website is up and running, his programs are installed and he’s ready to take orders. Stan spends $150 dollars on a cloud server, gets some help from tech support to get his website up by 10 a.m. and has his first paying client by the end of the day.

The Attack

Two months after Gus and Stan go into business, a virus is unleashed by nefarious hackers. Beware, small businesses, the reports say, the hackers are targeting your websites. Gus desperately figures out what he must do to protect his server. He takes his website offline just to be safe and spends the day installing upgraded antivirus and firewall protection.

Stan? He’s cool. The cloud company sends him an email. “Don’t worry about your data,” it says. “We upgrade our security measures constantly and all safeguards are already in place.”

Business Booms

Six months down the road, Gus and Stan are still in business and doing pretty well. So well, in fact, they need more data storage. For Gus, it’s back to square one, and he spends a day installing another server. Stan simply contacts his cloud hosting company’s website and asks them to add cloud block storage to his plan, increasing the size of his storage server within the day.

The Downfall

A year in, Gus’s business is slipping. He fell behind in answering a few emails and was a bit slow on some shipments, but he got it done. Unfortunately, he ended up with a few dissatisfied customers in the process and word has gotten out. His sales have fallen off, and bill time is a little rough. He wants to repair his reputation, but with everything else he has to do, he simply doesn’t have the time.

A year in, Stan’s business is a verifiable success. He has a reputation for getting jobs done on time consistently and for responding quickly to customers’ questions. A month later, Stan is still in business and Gus wonders what he could have done differently.

Epilogue

As Gus looks for answers on what he did wrong, evidence suggests taking Stan’s small business route might have proven beneficial. In a survey reported in Time Magazine and conducted by Manchester Business School and hosting company Rackspace, 90 percent of small business owners said they saved time and money with cloud services. Half credited the cloud with helping their businesses grow.

The services provided by cloud hosting, including website hosting, application hosting, data storage, and file system backups provide small businesses with everything they need to stay in operation, eliminating the need for equipment and IT. This saves on upfront costs, an important factor in any small business’ success.

With ever-changing storage options, such as cloud block storage, which allows cloud users to add file storage space without increasing server size, many choices are available for storing data on the cloud. The best thing about cloud services for small business owners, though, as Stan discovered, is that it takes unfamiliar tasks out of your hands, freeing you to run your business successfully.

Cloud Block Storage: How Can It Benefit Your Business?

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As a business’s data requirements become more extensive, its storage demands increase as well. Cloud block storage maximizes the efficiency of a server for maximum data storage and scalability. Although the concept may seem abstract, it has concrete implications for data management and file storage.

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An Overview of Cloud Block Storage

Blocks are the lowest level of data storage, residing on a server beneath the level of file storage. Because they’re relatively simple, blocks offer an independent storage method that can be scaled as needed in a number of ways to keep costs low. Blocks accommodate a wide range of data types, including databases, files and virtual machine file system volumes. Compare this to a file-level storage system, which only accommodates files. Although you might be able to store spreadsheets, marketing PDFs and images on a file-based storage system, you can’t store other types of data.

As you fill the block with data, you can expand to an additional block without disturbing other data on the server. The data is stored independently from the hardware, so you can move the block storage from one server to another without disturbing the hardware. Think of it like a separate hard drive on a server: You can remove the hard drive from one server and take it to another without disturbing the files.

Block storage is more challenging to administer than file-level storage, since administrators need to manage storage per server, track device performance and set security and protection levels. With cloud block storage, the cloud vendor takes on all the maintenance and administration of the storage server, so you don’t have to worry. You can connect to the cloud storage through an easy-to-use graphical user interface. Many common applications use block-level storage, including Microsoft Exchange and VMware, so you may already be taking advantage of block storage in your business life without even realizing it.

Block Storage’s Benefits

If all you need is a place to put files, TechRepublic recommends file-level storage, but if you’re looking for extensible storage options, cloud block storage can’t be beat. It offers faster speeds, greater reliability and faster performance than a file-based storage system. Block storage can also be formatted differently to accommodate a range of file systems that might be required by an application.

Consider these applications of block-level storage:

  • Move stored data to your block storage and then delete the contents of your server. Since everything is on the block storage, costs are kept down by paying only for the capacity you’re using.
  • Lend more storage to applications and databases that demand a high level of space, freeing up room on your solid state drive (SSD) for other applications.
  • Enhance the storage space of a cloud server without paying additional costs for cloud space.
  • Use the extra space to increase system speed and performance.
  • Keep computing costs low by paying only for the resources you need at any given time.
  • Use block storage for databases, applications, files or a combination.

A reputable cloud company can help you get started with block storage, monitor your block storage and perform all the necessary system maintenance and upgrades. See for yourself why businesses have taken to block storage to increase capacity and lower costs.

Trim Your Budget With The Cloud

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What’s the primary trait shared by all successful companies? Positive cash flow. Admittedly, that’s a lousy answer. Still, companies that manage to provide products or services for less than customers pay will stick around. That’s the tricky part, though. There are only two basic ways to do that: charge more or spend less. You can’t keep raising your prices whenever your profit margins slip, so you have to find ways to trim your budget, making your business leaner and more efficient. Fortunately, cloud computing provides five easy ways to do just that.

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No Hardware

Buying, maintaining and upgrading physical servers can quickly eat up an IT budget. Even if your business is too small to need racks of servers, just one file server can cost thousands of dollars. Enter cloud computing. With no initial investment, you can deploy any type of server you need.

Dynamic Resources

The biggest benefit cloud computing offers e-commerce businesses — and any other field with predictable ebbs and flows in sales — is the ability to dynamically scale servers. Gone are the days when a company had to maintain spare capacity in its servers in case users began flooding the website. Now, when there’s a traffic spike or a lull, cloud hosting clients can scale back resources, saving money by only paying for capacity currently in use.

Reduced Staffing

The monthly fee your company pays for its cloud services covers the costs of maintenance and hardware upgrades. That frees up more money for expanding the business’s product line or increasing customer support staff. IT staff employees are expensive, because they’re so valuable and a necessary part of any company with in-house servers. With cloud computing, however, you’re paying for a small portion of the host’s staff and are effectively splitting the cost with the cloud host’s other clients.

Increased Resilience

Cloud hosts often have multiple physical data centers in geographically distant locations. The host mirrors client data at multiple sites, so if there’s an outage, disaster or server failure, your server will be back up and running quickly, often within just a few minutes.

Backup Services

Even if you’re not using cloud hosting or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), your business can benefit from cloud backup. Decades ago, when companies backed up their files locally onto reels of magnetic tape, IT departments made sure to keep full copies of all data off-site. By doing so, they mitigated the risk of fire, natural disasters or a costly mistake. If anything happened to the local data, someone could retrieve the tapes and restore everything. Now that the cloud’s available, nobody has to haul around physical storage or spend hours overseeing the backup process. Instead, businesses can store data on cloud servers and access it at any time.

In order to keep your business competitive, you must find ways to reduce your expenses without reducing the quality of your infrastructure. By subscribing to whatever cloud service meets your needs, you can maintain an inexpensive, flexible, robust infrastructure and focus more on your primary business goals than whether to hire a new server administrator.

Making Your Logo An Effective Part of Your Marketing Mix

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Branding is an important part of any business, especially for small businesses needing to stand out in the crowd. Choosing relevant clip art and simply adding the business name is an ineffective method for creating a logo. Your business won’t be seen. Using clip art in this manner can look sloppy and careless. Instead, choose a quality logo design firm to help create the right logo to best reflect your business.

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Set your Budget

One of the most important steps throughout the design process is to set an initial budget. Before meeting with any potential companies, think about the value of the logo and what it can mean for your business’ growth. Consider how much money you have set aside for your marketing budget. The logo will be a one-time cost so it often pays to spend a little more.

Check their Work

You wouldn’t want to hire a design company that doesn’t know what they are doing. It is important to check their work before scheduling a consultation. First, go straight to the source. Check out the company’s website you’re considering for the design intitiative. A good design company will have a quality logo of their own and proudly showcase it on their site. If they don’t have a website, consider another company. Next, ask for a list of companies utilizing the company’s designs and verify the quality of work before you sign a final contract of intent. A skilled company will be more than willing to provide strong examples.

Know your Business

Think about what your business has to offer and what you envision for your company’s overall design. When you meet with a design firm, they will ask a variety of questions about your company in order to guide them toward the perfect end result. Therefore, be ready to talk about your business’ tone, personality and goals, as well as what needs to be avoided. Being prepared will help the process move smoothly.

Communication is Key

Throughout the design evolution, communication is a key factor. The right logo design firm will keep the lines of communication open from the first meeting to the delivery of your fresh, new logo. The company you choose should be willing to listen to your questions and concerns, as well as ask for your feedback on their ideas. If a company ignores your requests or is difficult to reach, move on to another company that will effectively communicate. A company that isn’t willing to communicate is more likely to provide you with a poor-quality logo or one that uses the same clip art you are trying to avoid.

An effective logo is important to your branding power. As a small business, it is even more critical to ensure you have a strong logo design on your side. While it is tempting to save the money and use clip art to create your logo, it is worth the money to hire a professional firm, as long as you take the steps to choose the right one.

How to Launch a Social Media Marketing Campaign

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socialmediapassionEngaging your customers in a way that makes them feel welcome has always been a good way for small businesses to build a loyal following. Before big-box retailers and business-to-consumer websites existed, people frequented local businesses, where the owners were their neighbors and part of the community. They not only bought products, they developed social relationships with business owners.

Fast-forward to the current way business is conducted, and you will see more and more small businesses developing a strong presence on the Internet. Whether you have a small Internet-based business or operate a brick-and-mortar store in the middle of your town, you need to be online and use social media to stay competitive.

Why it Matters

No longer is social media just a place for kids to hang out online with their friends. After the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey about Internet usage. The survey revealed that in December, 67 percent of all adults who go online use social networking sites. With literally billions of people around the world using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and numerous other social sites, businesses need to incorporate social media into their marketing plans.

How to Get Started

You may already have a website where customers and potential customers can go to find out about your company and the products or services you offer. As every Internet marketing guru will tell you, your website must always be fluid. If you want people to come back, you need to add fresh content, and blogging is a great way to do that. Once you have some good content, you can link to it on social media sites and drive traffic to your website.

Not everyone is comfortable venturing into new territory, so if you’re unsure about how to promote your business online, get help creating your social media marketing campaign.

Find your Target Audience

One of the mistakes that you can make when getting started with a social media campaign is to try and be all things to everybody. That is impossible. Even a huge company like Disney knows that its focus must be on families with young children – why waste time marketing to people who are not interested in what you’re selling?

Do some demographic research to find out where your target audience hangs out online. Then develop content that will appeal to that audience, and start building a following.

Engage in Conversations with Potential Customers

Everyone wants to feel like they are important, so find a way to interact with the public. Stimulate conversation by posting a quiz about a service or product you provide. Use surveys and allow people to post their comments and opinions. It is important that you have someone continue the conversation and post results of surveys. Customers are usually happy to offer feedback, and they’re even happier when they know you’re listening to what they have to say.

Connect your Social Media Channels

Make sure that you connect your website to your social media channels with links in both directions. Social media allows you to reach a large number of people with very little expense. With practice, you will discover what works best for you and build a following of people who are likely to become customers.

Tips For Marketing Quality Merchandise

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Marketing - Shutterstock

Marketing – Shutterstock

You’ve got it and they want it–they just don’t know it yet. So how does a business or brand help the consumers to realize that their product is the absolute best choice when there are so many competitors out there? Thanks to the evolution of technology there are more options than ever that can be used to allow consumers a chance to become familiar with both your brand and your product.

Mine’s Better Than Yours!

When it comes to your product being the best on the market and you want to convey to the customer that your product is of superior quality, words just aren’t enough. You cannot just say to consumers “Our product is superior” because with no form of proof this may be fact but it seems like it could just be your opinion. You need to demonstrate to consumers that your offering is indeed the best. As an example we only need to look to the trusty television and its commercials. Many laundry stain removers have began using demonstrations in their commercials in order to show consumers what their product is capable of in comparison to another leading brand. However, sometimes a product comparison in this sense is not the best way to prove your products worth. So what do you do then?

Look what I can do!

When comparing the performance of your product to another is not an option for proving it’s value there are still ways to help your brand pull into the lead. Look at your company and it’s business model. There may be things pertaining to how your product is made that will make your product more favorable. For instance, Company A and Company B both sell photo plaques which are a picture on wood. Company A produces their product cheaply and uses products with harsh chemicals in the production of their product, which allows them to charge less for their product. Company B relies on eco-friendly and biodegradable ingredients and also sources their materials from ecologically sustainable suppliers and their product costs a bit more than Company A‘s. But Company B also uses a portion of the income from their product to support the replanting of trees in critical ecosystems. Unless Company B let consumers in on this knowledge the masses will continue to purchase the product from Company A thinking that it is a better deal. The moral of the story is to let the consumers in. Tell them about all the good you do. When you tell them what your brand cares about you will probably find that your target audience cares too.

Testing, testing…

The last step to really get your product out there and into the hands of consumers is to let them try it. Once your product is in homes you will receive the benefit of buzz. This means that customers will talk and word of mouth is one of the best advertisements you can get. People are more likely to buy a product that someone they trust has recommended.

Basically if you have a quality product or a brand that is admirable the consumers need to know this. If you do nothing to let them know you are doing yourself, your brand and consumers a huge injustice. By employing these methods you can guarantee the success of a good product and a healthy relationship with the customers who stand behind you.

Cloud Opportunities

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To say that cloud computing has transformed how we produce, process and distribute business information would be the understatement of the century. While full-scale cloud adoption has had its fair share of challenges making traction with larger scale and smaller companies alike, it’s undeniable that cloud platforms as diverse as DropBox, SalesForce and Skype have made life easier. In company meetings and official business documentation we call this “efficiency,” but that’s exactly what the cloud is about. It takes computing-heavy processes and helps businesses transform them into easily-managed and delivered services.

The Cloud Problem: Small Businesses vs. the Cloud

According to a recent report by IT research analyst firm Freeform Dynamics, roughly 70% of small businesses state they aren’t likely to migrate to the cloud in the near future, and some won’t bother with the cloud integration discussion at all. This is telling in a lot of ways. First and foremost though, it reveals a misunderstanding of how the cloud can be used to benefit their business and boost their bottom line. Let’s investigate some real-world ways the cloud makes life easier, or, “boosts efficiency”.

The Cloud Solution: Efficiency

· Cloud Backup – According to DataLossDB.org, there were upwards of 1500 incidences of major data loss in 2012. Only a few months into 2013, there has already been reported over 350 instances. The bottom line is that you’ll lose data at some point, and your robust security tools won’t make a difference. What matters is what you do in the event of lost data. For small businesses, cloud backups are a cheap and easy solution that allow for simple off-site backup procedures matched with seamless data recovery tools.

· Cloud Storage Solutions – Cloud backup storage is easily the most popular type of cloud-based service out there. It has transformed the way we view data storage. Instead of opting for bigger, better and faster on-premise storage components, we seek out robust cloud storage platforms similar to DropBox, Google Drive and Box.net. While SMBs aren’t eager to fully jump on the cloud bandwagon, they are likely using cloud storage store information to make it more accessible to certain team members.

· Affordability, Scalability, Flexibility, etc – Affordability, scalability and flexibility is at the core of the cloud, and is often overestimated or underestimated, but not rightly understood within the adoption conversations that many businesses are having. The truth is from a cost and scalability perspective, you really only pay for what you use. From there, as your business grows or scales back its needs, you can almost instantly scale up or back your cloud services to meet your needs. This allows you to focus your IT budget on business-specific tools that help grow your business.

SMB Growth through Cloud Services

Whether you’re renting access to applications, or you’re using a cloud-based platform to deliver a more meaningful user experience to your customer base, the cloud can and does make life easier for your business. It allows you to focus on what matters: growing your business.

 

Print is Not Dead…Totally

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Though we live in a technologically-based environment, print media is still an important part in our day-to-day lives. Contrary to popular belief, print media is not dead, well, at least not yet anyway. Because it is still alive, there is no reason why you, a small business owner, cannot take advantage of print media advertising.

As a small business owner you are aware of the struggles and concerns for ensuring your business is a success. It costs money to properly utilize online advertising and hiring social media networkers to run the online part of your business. Because print media is not as popular any more, it is still one of the more cost effective methods for advertising a small business to the local community.

Types

There are many different types of printing services you can use to promote your small business. These include flyers, doorknob hangers, business cards and newspaper ads. All of these mediums are effective when they are delivered to the right people. Flyers can be hung on billboards at stores, in community centers and at parks throughout town. They can also be left on car windshields during a big event in the community. Door hangers can be hung throughout the community on front doors or on mailboxes. Business cards can be left everywhere you go, including stores, restaurants and offices.

Needs

Find out what the community needs from your business. Ask yourself what you can offer residents that they truly need, not just what theywant. Discover if certain areas of your community need your products and services. Do this by asking your customers where they live or conducting a survey in various neighborhoods in the community. This will tell you where to concentrate your print advertising efforts.

Business to Business

Go to other local businesses and offer a swap advertising plan. This is where you offer to have flyers and business cards posted in your place of business in exchange for them to do the same with yours. Go around town introducing yourself to other business owners and make a connection with them. Do not solicit other businesses, offer them a networking option with your business. This works great, especially if the products and services you offer complement those in a neighboring business.

Enhance the Online Presence

Print media can be used in conjunction with your online marketing endeavours. Think of print media as another way to get the word out about your Facebook page or website address. Print these locations on all of your print media advertising, especially on your business cards. Make it your mission to get your printed materials in the hands of everyone who comes within five feet of you and your business.

As you can see, print media is not quite dead yet and until it does die, there is no reason why you cannot take full advantage of its potential. Making print ads and delivering them to the right people in your community will help get the word out about your business and drive those new customers to your store. If you already have an online presence, this is another way to also drive customers to your website, where they will turn into loyal customers.

 

7 Tips for Successfully Using Social Media to Market Your Ecommerce Site

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Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for your ecommerce business, but perhaps not in the way you’d naturally imagine. Correct use of social media requires some specific considerations, if you want to attract people rather than turn them off. Successful social media marketing for ecommerce is a game all its own.

Know your statistics. This is tantamount to coming up with a successful social media marketing strategy. Statistically, less than 30 percent of social media users shop through their social networks. However, more than 50 percent of those people use their social media every single day for other purposes like socialization and communication. Given this data, it is plain to see that your marketing efforts should be focused on communication, rather than sales. Read More

Social Media is a Proven Tool for Ecommerce Sites: So What Are You Waiting For?

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If you are an Internet entrepreneur, then you are already well aware of the power and influence of the online community when it comes to your business’ success (or lack thereof). Therefore, you simply cannot afford to overlook any of the ways in which the Internet can be used to your advantage, and that means you should be developing your social media presence. If you are still a stranger to the ways in which social media can be a powerful tool for the betterment of your ecommerce site, then the time to get in the know is now.

Need some convincing? If so, just check out the impressive numbers of a big-time online retailer that has used social media to its advantage. Fab.com is a virtual store that specializes in “everyday design” items (basically, you can find everything from refurbished vintage typewriters to pug-faced t-shirts on this massively popular site). Read More

Design Is The First Priority

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Don’t judge a book by its cover. While most of us are probably familiar with this old age,  we still make judgments each day based on sight alone. It’s not petty. It’s human nature. Beautiful people. Interesting architecture. Art. As a species, we humans appreciate things that are aesthetically pleasing.

Websites are no exception to our eye for beauty.Visually, people are as picky about the appearance of the places we visit online as we are about everything else. According to Internet analytics firm KISSmetrics, 42 percent of online shoppers form their opinions of a website based on its design alone, and 52 percent of shoppers would not return to a poorly-designed website.

When it comes to making an impression, design matters.

That doesn’t mean your small business’ website has to be a marvel of graphic design. A website that is easy to navigate and easy on the eyes will keep visitors from clicking away from your page for the last time.

Easy to Navigate

First and foremost, good web design means simple navigation. If potential buyers come to your page and can’t figure out how to browse or buy, they’ll go somewhere where the process is simpler.

Whether you are selling products, services or just information, think of your website like a store. If you were running a store on Main Street downtown, you wouldn’t just throw all the merchandise in the middle of the floor and leave it up to your customers to sort through it. You would place items neatly on shelves, put up signs, and keep the cash register in clear view.

That’s the type of organization that makes a website successful.

Navigable websites don’t crowd the page, they have clearly labeled categories and links that make it easy for visitors to find what they need, and they make purchase links pop on the page, so that users know just where to click once they know what they want.

Think grocery store. Even first-time visitors can walk right in, follow the signs to the milk, grab a gallon, go directly to the register, make their purchase and be on their way in less than five minutes.

If your website isn’t that navigable, redesign it. One simple step Mashable recommends is to go through your site and remove any widgets or excess components that have no use. If it doesn’t provide the user with information, utility or entertainment, get rid of it.

Easy On The Eyes

Usability is key, but appearance matters, and one of the most important factors in website design is color. Color is the primary factor that determines whether or not shoppers make purchases, according to KISSmetrics, and, oddly enough, that doesn’t pertain solely to the products, but to the environment those products are found in. In this case, your business’ website.

Color is so important to patron experience that malls, banks, restaurants and businesses have used color-planning for decades to entice potential buyers and increase sales. The same applies to your business’ website.

When choosing the color scheme for your website, it’s essential to consider your product and your audience. Red, for instance, is a power color that prompts people to buy, but it also induces stress, which is not exactly ideal for a yoga site. Green, on the other hand, is a color that induces relaxation, ideal for earthy online buyers.

While usability may be top priority in website design, appearance isn’t far behind. A website that is grocery-store navigable and boutique-store adorable will give users the right combination of utility and entertainment. Despite what Mom and Dad might have told them, people do judge books by their covers. And websites. So, make sure your site is worth a second look.