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marketing concept

Good marketing is good business

It’s a pretty basic concept that a successful business must have effective marketing strategies. Another basic concept is that 50% of marketing is wasted; the problem is that we seldom know which 50%.

With the internet offering an ever increasing array of options, there are some weird and wonderful ideas out there, however if you are trying to save money here are some effective yet pocket friendly ways to market your business.

Use Case Studies

You already have some satisfied customers. Ask them for feedback. Interview them or have them fill out a short questionairre that contains the information that other potential customers may need.

Blog

One of the most common and effective methods of marketing is blogging. you can  post information about new products and their uses, upcoming events, news about your company, and videos relating to your business. Starting one requires no money because sites like WordPress offer it for free. keep your content fresh and include information that is useful to your target market. A strong media presence can bring in more sales.

Utilise Forums

There are many people who search for solutions. Forums are a great place to post their problems hoping someone can offer a good solution. Apple facilitates forums for its users even the ones that complain about something. There are forum search services like Omgili.com that will help you to find these inquiring potential customers and answer their questions.

Get on Google Maps

This is a no brainer. It’s free to have your company listed online, that way clients who are around your area and looking for your product or service can easily locate you. Many times they don’t know where to go and you’ll be the first option. Go to www.google.com/ places. It’s free publicity.

Get Applications

If you would like to get more presence online, get apps. Lexity.com for example lets you customise your apps based on your business.  The apps will get your business listed on Google, Shop.com, Facebook and other sites that many people frequent.  You will also be able to manage your AdWords campaign without much difficulty. This is not a free service but the rewards can be great.

Facebook Stories

You might have noticed that only 10% of your followers are able to see your Facebook posts. This is where sponsored stories comes in. They allows more people to view your page. These promoted stores capture more people and allow you to interact with your readers. Interaction with potential customers is key in increasing sales. You may want to first give it a try by spending no more than $50.00. If you like the outcome then you can increase your spend.

CRM

Why use a CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) technology is the easiest way to manage business relations with customers. Apart from integrating, marketing and customer support, it can play a fundamental role in e-commerce.

A CRM application can help your sales team organise, automate, and coordinate business processes to help you find, attract and win new customers, as well as manage those you already have.

There’s an old saying that ‘you never know when a prospect is ready to buy’. A CRM allows you to keep prospects warm by staying in touch on a regular basis.

You can segment your data into Customers, Former Customers, Prospects, Suppliers, Alliances, and any other group that helps you to monitor your results. You can also classify them into A, B and C and service each group differently according to their value to your business.

Another great feature is the ability to track communication and interaction. When a customer or prospect calls you have the advantage of having their history at your fingertips. People respond better when they feel you know and understand them personally.

You won’t sell to everyone. Not at the beginning at least. In today’s world it typically takes five to eight contacts to make a sale. Most business owners and business buyers stick with their current supplier until they feel ignored. That’s why staying in regular contact is so important.

Whilst you can buy CRM software such as ACT or Filemaker and host it on your own server, the good news is, there are numerous online solutions that allow you to access your CRM data from anywhere. Probably the best known is Salesforce but if you are in the market, take a look at SugarCRM, Contactually and Insightly. Always, do a web search because new systems appear regularly. Look for a CRM that allows you to track your contacts’ social media entries as well as your own touch points.

Business is based on relationships. CRM provides an easy way to nurture them. If you have a growing business, and customer service is important, you really need to invest in a good quality CRM.

Agent advises the couple, signing documents

Good Advice Is Good Business

We find ourselves living in interesting economic times.

Oil and commodity prices are falling through the floor. Politicians are unable to sell a balanced budget. There is unprecedented turmoil in the Middle East and in Europe the Greek crisis is unfolding daily.

In the past you have probably you’ve weathered storms using your experience, judgment and instincts. But now what?

You’re facing an economy that’s stalled, credit that’s too easy and customers seeking ways to cut back. Perhaps it’s time to bring in some outside help. Perhaps you need an impartial view. Perhaps you’re simply too close to the problem.

A good business consultant takes a fresh look at procedures and policies to inject new life into entrenched business practices. What worked 12 months ago is already out of date. Times have changed, and quickly.

Small business owners may be reluctant to incur the expense of an outside advisor. Qualified mentors are, indeed, expensive – and for good reason. They deliver solutions and benefits that far outweigh the capital outlay for services rendered. The key is to find the right consultant among the flim-flam artists and snake oil salespeople that populate the consulting industry landscape.

So, what should you look for when you’re looking for innovation and a quantifiable ROI?

Here’s an insider’s perspective on what you need in a business consultant.

Seek referrals

This one is a no-brainer.

There are a lot of people who call themselves business consultants, success coaches, life coaches, and on and on, so if you pick a name out of the telephone book you may end up with a practitioner of voodoo who recommends sacrificing a chicken to improve sales.

There’s nothing more secure than a referral from a respected colleague or associate. It might take a little time to find the right name and number but it’s time well spent when you consider that poor chicken.

Ask for references

A good business consultant will have a list of clients happy to recommend his or her services. Follow up with telephone calls. Most references will be happy to discuss the problems their companies faced and how the consultant delivered value and solid, actionable advice.

A consultant who can NOT produce a list of satisfied clients due to NDAs or some other ruse is a consultant who may not have the experience you need to solve your problems. Be careful.

Credentials?

Is the mentor trained? Certified? Licensed? Credentialed? Insurance? And most importantly, have they ever run a successful business?

Once again, ask for the consultants credentials – education, memberships in professional groups, licenses and other indicators of a studied professional who not only knows business but also knows consulting and the role of the consultant as adjunct to corporate management.

What are your objectives?

This is one question a consultant can’t answer and probably the first question the consultant will ask. So having a well-considered answer is going to make your relationship with a business consultant more valuable. The less the consultant has to guess, the more help s/he can be to you and your business.

Put together a list of business priorities based on where you want the company to be in 12 months, 24 months and 36 months. Don’t broad stroke this part of the exercise. Be precise. Create the projections. Fill in as many blanks as you can. This is the road map to your long-term business success. It’s also the road map to a successful collaboration with your consultant.

Know where you’re going. The consultant helps you get there.

Be completely open and honest.

Straight talk is a time saver and it insures results. A company owner who only tells half the story is limiting the services and quality of advice a consultant can provide. So, trust in the integrity of your consultant and give the complete picture – the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

Affiliate Marketing

Can Affiliate Marketing Work for You?

Affiliate marketing can be a highly effective business tool for since it harnesses the networks and leads of one company to help grow another.

While affiliate marketing is available in a variety of contexts and markets, service providers are in a particularly good position to use affiliate marketing to their benefit.

Affiliate Marketing

Essentially, affiliate marketing allows various businesses to join and use each other’s strengths to grow the customer or client base. The instigator contacts several affiliates, which may or may not also be in an allied business. They could be players in related fields, or anyone who has a database and who may need your product or service at some point.

The instigator then creates an agreement with each affiliate that a reward of some type will be given for every solid lead. For instance, if a car repair technician refers someone to an insurance broker for new car insurance and the lead pans out, the insurance broker might pay the technician a fee or better still might send work to the car repairer’s business.

While the affiliate marketing system can be a direct agreement between two or more businesses, there are also several affiliate networks online. These services are designed to help find online affiliate programs that work for the original source and to bring more traffic (and therefore customers) to the source’s website.

In this version of affiliate marketing, the instigator would pay a percentage of any revenue generated by traffic brought to its website through the affiliate website(s). These affiliate network services often offer additional benefits such as data collection, tracking, report generation, payment processing, and links to other affiliate sites as well.

Terminology

Some of the most common terms in affiliate marketing are simple. The original source is often called the merchant. Those who seek and bring leads or traffic sources back to the merchant are called the affiliates.

 Maximizing the Potential of Affiliate Marketing

One of the best things about affiliate marketing is that you are not limited to just one affiliate program. You can sign up for several affiliate programs and even make personal affiliate arrangements with contacts in your own network.

Other Types of Affiliate Marketing

There are other forms of internet marketing that are considered affiliate marketing that may be useful for your business. For example, purchasing a banner ad through one of the major search engines such as Google or Yahoo will allow your information to be viewed by a wide audience of potential new customers.

You can also purchase text ads on the search engines and often through affiliate marketing websites as well. The most effective text ad is simple and direct, such as “For the best price on xxx, visit (insert website name here)”. These marketing methods cost money and there are many companies out there promising you high traffic rates in return for low prices but beware – scams abound when it comes to internet marketing. Stick with the big name search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing for peace of mind.

Business concept

Are you insuring yourself, without realising it?

Many insurance policies have what is known as a co-insurance clause.

In simple terms, what it means is, that in the event of a claim, if your property or business is under-insured, or not insured for it’s full value, the insurance company can discount your claim.

This can happen even if you have a partial claim.

According to leading insurance industry figure Dr Allan Manning over 70% of Business Interruption policies could be impacted by under insurance.

Here’s an example of how it works.

If a business had a sum insured for gross profit of $500,000 when the actual insurable gross profit of the business was $1,000,000 on a policy with 80% co-insurance; and the loss was $200,000, the claim would be adjusted as follows:

 

            Declared Value                   x        Loss             =      Insured Loss

Value at Risk x Co-insurance

 

i.e.         $500,000                           x      $200,000       =      $125,000

$1,000,000 x 80%

This means the uninsured loss (reduction in claim) would be $75,000.

This is an example of why the role of the insurance broker is so important. A small saving in premium can have a large cost in the event of a claim. Many business policies also fail to have a long enough Indemnity Period and cover for increased cost of working.

To have your insurance program checked contact one of our brokers.

*The above example was provided by Dr A Manning of LMI Group.

Internet Business Series

Using the Internet to Generate Leads

Once upon a time, the world of sales leads consisted of attending business social functions and collecting business cards while hobnobbing with others in the industry. While happy hour remains an excellent time and place to garner a few leads, the Internet has paved a completely new way to develop sales leads.

Using the Internet wisely for a few hours now can do more for you now than hours of endless social functions could do for you back then.

Develop Your Website

To begin with you must have a strong website. The site should be crisp and clean, with attractive visuals. The content on the site should be logically arranged and the site easy to navigate and search. A website gives you a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in the field and encourage visitors to opt-in for more information – an enormous potential source for leads.

Offer visitors the chance to “sign up” for a newsletter, special download or deal, or an event offered only to ‘members’. One of the biggest keys to Internet marketing is the understanding that people like to feel as if they are in on a secret and are getting something that others are not. Encourage them to opt-in, thereby collecting a wealth of lead information, and give them something good in return, such as a sneak peak to an event, a deeply discounted deal or something similar. Use your website to demonstrate that your company is the leader in the field.

Set up an area for articles, FAQ and information and populate this page with smart, informative, useful information. Use targeted keywords that others might use on search engines to increase your web page ranking on search engine results, but don’t go overboard. Using keywords two to four times within any article is enough and will not look as if you are deliberately inserting a keyword into every other sentence to generate better search engine optimisation. Ask website visitors to sign up to receive a blog post that you send out once every week or so. This provides yet another source of leads and allows you to continue to demonstrate your expertise in the market and your knowledge about recent developments and news as well.

Social Media

Your next powerful Internet tool when it comes to sales leads is social media.

Regardless of whether you think that Twitter is for ditzy celebrities and Facebook for computer-obsessed teens, the fact is that social media is one of the most powerful methods of reaching an audience in the world today. Over 80 per cent of Australian business people have a profile on one of the social media networking sites, and over half said that social networking sites influenced their buying decisions. Moreover, social media sites are growing faster than ever, with over 50 per cent of Twitter users having just joined less than a year ago.

In other words, social media presents you with the opportunity to reach an enormous audience and garner sales leads. If you have not already done so, set up a business profile page on each of the social media websites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest). Populate each page with attractive images from your business, include contact information and add a button to your own website.

Then let people know that you are on the social media sites and you want to connect with them. For example, send out an email to your contacts and offer them a discount or a deal if they “Like” you on Facebook or “Follow” you on Twitter. Encourage them to pass it along to others. Good deals spread like wildfire across the web – take advantage of it.

Stay active once you have built your little social media world. This takes a regular time investment but the ROI is usually worth it. Post relevant, interesting comments to other people’s pages that relate to you and your business. Comment about industry news and provide your take on the situation. Ask questions of others and encourage them to ask questions of you. Keep your pages updated with new content, pictures and information and make sure your content is relevant and interesting.

One of the most important social media websites for any businessperson is LinkedIn, built around the concept of helping professionals expand their professional network. Set up a solid personal profile and start linking with others that you know, and then look at their contacts to see if there are more people you might want to meet. You can request an introduction and slowly start building a bigger, better network simply through online introductions alone. In addition, LinkedIn has many groups that you can join that targeted at your industry, market and expertise, which are excellent sources of information, networking and sales leads.

Generate Traffic

While generating organic traffic to your website and increasing your visibility thorough social media websites are essential steps to increasing your sales through the internet, you may need to add a little extra by paying for online ads.

You can also use a paid SEO service that will bring the traffic to your site.

Spending some time on the internet to develop your online presence is an investment that pays well and can continue to produce leads on a regular basis.

 

business man draw social network

The most valuable sales tool is influence – here’s how you build it

If George Clooney or Nicole Kidman walked up to you and asked you to purchase a product or a service, chances are good that you would seriously consider it. The reason why is that being a celebrity is a powerful influence in our world and influence in turn is a powerful sales tool. You don’t have to be a famous celebrity to develop influence, however, and it is one of the best (and free) ways to become a better sales person. Influential Appearance Whether you like it or not, your appearance is an immediate influence on your sales success. After all, impressions are the first chance people have to assess our likability and our power. As stated by Professor Arturo Perez-Reyes of the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business Administration, “What you intend matters only to you and your god or gods. What your audience infers means everything…and audiences are a fickle lot.” Scientific studies have found that both men and women correlate physical beauty with inner beauty and assume that physically attractive people are more successful. Men place even higher value on physical attractiveness. Those who are assumed to be successful often find themselves being more successful in turn. This does not mean that you must be physically attractive to be successful or influential. Rather, make sure that your appearance is attractive. Ensure that your hair is clean and groomed, your nails are short and clean and your clothes tidy, well fitting and clean as well. Professional dress should make a statement about how you want to be seen.

 

Examples for men include a collared shirt, black or grey slacks and jacket, a conservative tie, black or grey socks and polished black shoes. For women, a professional appearance includes a smart skirt that hits just above the knee or tailored slacks, a conservative shirt and/or jacket, simple jewellery and low heels or flats. Makeup should be simple and hair nicely groomed. Skip perfume or cologne since many people are allergic. Influential Behaviour In order to be truly influential, your behaviour must also be polished. Greet others formally, offer a firm handshake, and be confident but not cocky. One of the best ways to increase your influence through your behaviour is by knowing yourself and your business. Speak clearly and crisply and organise your ideas into logical sequences and practice being able to respond calmly and logically to any argument. Influential people are able to employ reciprocation, affability, commitment and authority. Some of these traits are easy to acquire, such as affability, which simply means being polite and friendly to everyone you meet. Others, such as commitment and authority require your expertise and confidence as you speak. Practice these traits during your everyday life and you will find that they come more easily in your business life as well. Other, subtler ways that can grow your influence is by showing basic simple communication skills, something that can be lost in today’s technological world. Call someone instead of texting them and send a handwritten thank you card after you meet with someone for a sale, meeting or interview. Follow up within the first 24 hours of the meeting. If you wait too long, your impression will already be losing steam and so will your influence.

 

Write and send birthday cards and holiday cards and be sincere in what you write. Influential Networking Who you know has much to do with how influential you are. Dedicate real time to developing your business network and you will see your ability to influence others grow as a result. For example, develop your professional profile on business social media sites such as LinkedIn and join relevant business groups. Ask for connections and introductions to others in your industry or market that others know whom you would like to know or meet. Be polite but bold. Attend seminars, conferences, meetings and local business groups so that you can meet others in your industry and strengthen your connection with those you do know. True power is found in the ability to find, develop and maintain relationships with others. Influential Expertise If you want to be influential in sales, you need to be memorable by being a true expert in your field. Anyone can parrot back information, but knowing and understanding the business, the industry and the market is another thing entirely. Learn everything that you can learn and listen to others to gain from their expertise. Attending seminars and conferences also gives you the chance to learn more and develop your knowledge. The more that you know, the better you will be at sales and the better you are at sales, the more influential you become. Influential Sales Essentially, developing your personal influence will in turn influence your ability to increase sales. This is done through professional and impressive appearance, behaviour, networking and expertise. If you work on being sharp, credible and thorough in those four elements, you will find that you become more and more influential and your sales will follow.

Эксперт (expert). Печать и оттиск

Why Businesses Need to Protect The Money Earners

The reason for owning or operating a business is to make profit so it follows that the most valuable asset of the business is the asset that produces the profit.

In most businesses the most valuable asset is not money or even physical assets. They are merely the commodities that earn a rate of return. Profit is generated form management expertise and skill.

In other words the real profit comes from human assets. The skill, judgement and initiative of the key players; whether they are managers, sales people or specialists.

Most businesses owners would not dream of operating without insuring their physical assets. However, very few apply the same principle to insuring their human assets. A business can be likened to a three-legged stool where the legs are capital, labour and management. If one leg is missing the stool will fall over.

The same principle applies in a business because management makes the other two legs (of the business) successful.

What would happen to your business if the people with the management and specialist skills were not there? If they died or became disabled? Would bank loans need to be repaid? Would suppliers start to worry? Would customers go somewhere else?

Insurance can protect both capital and revenue. Capital pays out debts and releases a deceased estate and surviving business owners from personal guarantees; and revenue provides a “cash cushion” to stabilise a business during any readjustment period following the death of the key player.

Have you talked to a specialist who can value your key personnel?

 

business team with tablet pc having discussion

Do Online Meetings Work?

There’s no doubt that digital communication has opened the door to faster communication and better affordability. However, is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Is it actually better than meeting face to face?

The answer is, “it depends”.

The Advantage of Online Meetings

Digital communication technologies offers a range of benefits, though perhaps the most important two go hand in hand – convenience and cost savings. Every business, regardless of size, scope or niche, needs to cut costs and save time. Digital technology like VoIP does just that.

Whether you choose to go with a full VoIP implementation or make use of tools such as tablet computers and free apps like Skype, you’ll find that online meetings are a great ways to build a sense of community and teamwork within your own business.

VoIP is not without its problems, even in its most robust applications, and is not necessarily ideal for some things. However, it’s a great tool for team communication and collaboration, particularly when team members are scattered around the country, or around the world. It’s also useful for in-house meetings and can be far more beneficial than traditional conference calls.

The real benefit of today’s technology is the ability to use video because so much human communication is nonverbal. Video calls and videoconferences help ensure easy communication and greater accuracy for all involved.

The savings in time and travel costs can also be significant. A large number of businesses now conduct many of their meetings through VoIP solutions simply because they’re so much more affordable – there’s no airfare or hotel costs, no meals to pay for and no additional travel arrangements to be made.

When Face to Face Meetings Are Better

When you think of meetings in the physical world, do you equate them with wasted time and higher costs? If so, it might be time to rethink. Face-to-face meetings still offer some advantages that are impossible to get with digital communications.

Meeting someone in person might seem a bit “last century”, but there’s plenty to be gained by sitting down with someone, shaking their hand and “talking shop” without the distraction of a screen between the two of you.

Assessment of the other person is simpler and easier in an offline environment. While video communications can show you some of the person’s physical behaviour, it won’t capture all of the subtle nuances. For instance, is the person shifting nervously? Is he or she tapping their toe in impatience? Signs of tension, apprehension, boredom or engagement – these are all vital to accurate communication and assessment of the situation, and they’re really only available by meeting in person.

You’ll also find that in-person meetings help foster greater productivity in team settings. This is because it’s easier for individuals to break off from the main group into smaller teams for collaboration on specific items or areas of the agenda that cannot be addressed directly through the larger meeting. Digital communication is good, but is really only ideal when there is a single conversation going on with all attendees of the meeting.

Another advantage is that you can take more time to get to know the other party. In a VoIP meeting, it’s usually “straight to business”. However, with a face-to-face meeting, you get the opportunity to slow things down and take time to get to know them a bit more personally. That’s a vital consideration in many situations.

In-person meetings are essential when accurate, immediate personal assessment is needed. If you’re negotiating a new contract, you need to be able to see their nonverbal communication cues. If you’re interviewing a new senior staff member, you need to make sure you can assess their character accurately to ensure they’re competent, have integrity, honesty and trustworthiness. Those qualities can be enormously difficult to assess via digital communication (and impossible in written form).

The bottom line

When it comes down to it, businesses today need both forms of communication. There is no denying the value, convenience and immense savings that can be offered by digital communications. However, there’s no way to derive all the benefits of a personal meeting through the impersonal digital world. Both types of meetings have a role to play.

Digital communications play an integral role in the modern world, but those roles should be limited to situations where all the parties are well known to each other or when personal assessment of the other party is of low priority.

Personal meetings, on the other hand, are vital when accurately assessing the other party and understanding their nonverbal communication is critical.

It’s important for any business to have access to a decent digital solution. However, remember, this is not the ideal communication medium for all situations.

Internet Theft

Even Insurance Companies Aren’t Safe From Hackers

A report in last week’s Australian newspaper stated that Australians are reporting 500 cybercrimes every week and recent stories about the hacking of large companies such as Sony, Target, Home Depot and Apple, make you wonder if your own company’s information is in jeopardy.

Getting hacked can be a scary thing to contemplate, especially if your (and your clients’) confidential information at stake.

Many people take every precaution to protect their personal information from hackers and identity thieves, but sometimes it does not prove to be enough. With the advances in technology come even more advanced hackers. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on digital storage rather than paper-based storage, the risk of people’s personal information being exposed has risen considerably.

You may have read about the recent attack on Aussie Travel Cover. These stories are appearing more and more.

In early October of 2012, there was a massive security breach at Nationwide Insurance in the US. Hackers stole the personal information of more than a 1 million people. The information accessed was extremely personal: names, addresses, marital status, and more. To the relief of many distressed Nationwide clients, it was not evident that any credit card or medical information was accessed or stolen. The attack was recognised by Nationwide the same day, and through effective managing of their business risks, steps were taken immediately to recover. A statement was released, and it was believed that the hackers were based outside of the US. As an apology to those affected, the company offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for a full year.

It is extremely difficult to avoid hackers, even for the largest companies. Here are some things that small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s) can do to keep them safer from cyber-attacks:

Install a firewall – Consult a computer technology firm or industry specialist on how to install a firewall on your system. A firewall helps to prevent valuable information from leaking out of your computer and also helps to prevent hackers from getting in.

Get insured – There are a variety of solid companies that offer insurance for cyber breaches (cyber insurance), and they will often help you to recover valuable information and assist in payment of any damages incurred from the hack.

This cover can include:

  • The cost of a public relations firm to help tell the world, in a better tone, how the breach may have occurred
  • money to provide your clients with credit monitoring and other services to help them get back on track.
  • Funds to help if you are sued. A cyber insurance policy will cover your legal costs and penalties in the event you lose (subject to policy limits).

Use secure passwords – Make sure that every computer in your network is secured with a strong password. Include numbers and symbols to make your passwords stronger. Many companies still use “admin” or “password”, and this is leading to more and more attacks.

Talk to employees – Make sure that every employee knows how to keep their computer and information secure. Communication with your employees will ensure that they know the procedures for keeping the business safe from hackers.

With the chance getting hacked increasing almost daily, many business owners are wondering what can be done to minimize the chances of a security breach. For SMEs, which make up over 95% of Australian businesses and can be considerably more vulnerable than larger enterprises, the best solution is insurance.