Tuesday, May 31, 2005

FREE - Auto Surfing Web Traffic Generators

Here they are:

Hitzup

TrafficRacer

Hope they bring your website lots of traffic!

"Don't Let Your Small Business Become a Statistic"

Everybody knows that most small businesses fail. It’s a simple but harsh reality. Reasons include lofty overhead, substandard management or poor production. But the one that I often hear and really get frustrated by is “not enough customers.” The truth is, if lack of customers is your downfall, then you deserve to fail, because you never should have opened shop.

How can you avoid such a fate?

The answer is simple, market research.

Through market research you can gain insight on incredibly useful information about the market for your business. Data can be collected on who potential target markets are, where they are located and even their preferences and opinions on subject matter relevant to your business. This information will directly result in the best possible decisions for your business.

And you can aquire all this information before the grand opening!

When taking on such a huge risk it only makes sense to do your homework. Would you invest in a stock without researching the company? Would you invest in real estate without seeing the land? Of course not and you can't invest in a business without researching the market.

All too often small business owners overlook market research and learn this information after they have invested their time and money. Don't make the mistake of thinking you know the market better than you do, or that market research does not make the budget cut. You will pay in the end.

If you have any questions about market research and how it can serve your business, please contact me at mnassick@royallmedia.com and I will be happy to assist you in developing a plan.

Monday, May 30, 2005

"The Marketing Death Trap"

Watch Out!

There's a death trap out there just waiting for your business to fall in.

I've learned over the years that when businesses aren't doing so well, the budget gets tight, and people start looking for places to cut costs - they always see marketing materials as dispensable. I mean, you didn't hand out all of those fliers last time you had them printed anyways, right? And everything else is necessary, right? You have to pay your wholesalers so you'll have your product when people order it. You have to pay rent. You have to pay utilities. You have to pay your employees. And the list goes on.

I'm here to tell you my friends that every one of those should be cut first, before you cut your marketing budget and materials. You can down-size your office. Heck, you can even run your business from home. You can get credit to stock your products. You can down size the number of employees you have. You can do all of this - but don't cut back on your marketing when business gets slow.

Doesn't it only make sense to increase your marketing budget when business gets slow? I hope you see it that way.

Marketing is what drives your business. It's what brings new customers to your front door. Cut back on your marketing materials, and your cutting your own life-line.

Have you ever thought that your marketing plan just needs adjusting? If you want to do better, don't cut back on the budget - change where your money gets spent. If it's not working, stop doing the same old thing. I'll help you review your marketing plan, if you'd like, at no cost.

Just make sure you see marketing as an investment. Everything else is an expense. Cut your expenses, and invest in your business.

FREE Traffic to Your Website

This company offers a link exchange program. Very nice indeed.




Sunday, May 29, 2005

FREE Marketing Tips Mailing List

Get tips on marketing! Ideas, Tools, and Resources for the entrepreneur who wants to sell or distribute a product or service to a target market group.

• Learn how to formulate customized business plans and marketing plans based on customer research.

• Learn where to find marketing resources that can help create all the necessary materials for your marketing campaign.

• Learn how to formulate custom presentations of your products to your clients based on their needs and requests.

Get people asking you for your services today!

Just send a blank email to: targetmarket-subscribe@royallmedia.com

*** Step 2. MP - "Embellishing Your 70% for Growth"

This is step two for small business owners in the MP (Marketing Plan) series of posts. If you haven't already read step one, please do so here before you move onto step two. The previous post described how we can improve the return on our marketing investment by concentrating most of our marketing dollars in what we know is already working for us. 70% should be spent on what we already know works, while only 30% should be left up to experimentation and / or speculation. The left-overs should be allocated to what you know didn't work. ;-)

It kills me to see people who spend more money the following year on something that didn't do diddily-squat for their company the year before - in hopes that by spending more money, "they will come." Face it. If your business isn't cut for advertising on the web, don't invest more money into your website. If your business doesn't do well through television advertising, don't buy another commercial!

It is true however, that sometimes these areas could be explored and presented in a different manor or demeanor, resulting in a change in customer response - but this should be limited to part of your 30% speculative marketing expense budget.

Now that you have decided which part of your marketing plan worked the best for you last year, you can see where to allocate more funds this year.

If you haven't decided on an amount of money you will be putting towards marketing this year, do so now. You will need to know this information to follow through with the next steps.

Remember, we only want to spend 70% of our total budget on what we know works.

Lets break up our 70% into smaller categories. We'll call this the 40-20-10 strategy. (Add the numbers up and they should equal 70%) The idea here is to diversify your marketing budget to insure growth (by concentrating on what works), while reducing risk (by not placing all your eggs in one basket.)

First, list what worked and with what percentage increase did it bring your business in customer response or sales growth. If you don't have this information because you didn't keep track and follow up with your customers - don't make that mistake again. More about tracking results in a later post.

Second, Starting with the marketing technique that contributed your largest area of growth, allocate 40% of your total marketing budget to this area. For example, If you saw explosive growth through your website last year, you may want to continue funding the website with the most of your marketing budget. Then take the next technique that provided the second largest amount of growth (in either customers or sales) and allocate 20% of your overall budget in this area for this years marketing campaign. Continue with your final 10% in deciding which technique provided the third largest amount of growth.

Now what's left over is 30% of your total original budget marketing budget. This is what we will use to explore new target market areas, groups, or methods that we aren't sure work for our business yet.

Read Step 3 now.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

FREE, Yet Again, Internet Website Tracker

One of my friends, Alex, pointed out another good website statistic tracker. If you're shopping around, and aren't convinced with SiteTracker - Try Webalizer.

Thanks Alex!

Friday, May 27, 2005

FREE Internet Website Tracking Tool

This is the service I use to track traffic on my web pages. Its FREE to keep track of your most recent 100 users, and then charges per month depending on how many users you would like to track.

They track: Popular pages, entry and exit pages, which website referred the user, visitor paths, visit length, returning visits, recent page load activity, recent visitor activity, country, state, city, ISP, browser, system stats, IP, and more.

They also do keyword analysis and recent keyword activity to help you decide on keywords to place within your website to attract more visitors from websites.

An all around great tool for webmasters or anyone who owns a business and wants to track their website's leads. See what's working on your website with StatCounter.

Free Website Statistics

FREE Program Demo to Make Your Mail Look Good

In business, everything you do adds or subtracts from your brand name. If you want to represent quality, you better start looking like quality. Packaging is everything. It represents what's on the inside.

When sending mail, brand it. Make your letter head, envelope, and address label yours - and yours alone. Customize them, make them portray a unified theme whether its your logo or not.

I've included some links to programs which might help you get started.

Mac Users: SOHO Labels & Envelopes
PC Users: OfficePrinter 2.0

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Increase Your $ales with This, Guaranteed!"

Here's some advice for people running businesses out there.

If you can't stand behind your product 100%. You're probably in the wrong business.

And even if you're in the right business, someone else is stealing market share from you every day with the power of their guarantee. It is a proven fact that businesses that guarantee their products sell more, grow faster, and make more money. Here's why it works.

People are motivated by their feeling of security.

When you remove all risk for the buyer, they feel obligated to buy your product over someone else's because they feel safe.

Not only do they feel obligated to buy your product, but they also feel obligated to tell someone about it. It's an extra bragging right.

Have you ever purchased something you were so excited about and caught yourself saying to someone else after describing what you purchased, "It came with a guarantee (or warranty) too, so if I ever have any problems I can take it back." This added excitement is a *bonus* for buying that particular product, and your friend will want the same guarantee too.

It adds value to your business model.

One problem I find with a lot of business owners who do stand by their work is that they simply don't advertise their guarantee out of fear that they might have to take a loss once in a while if they advertise it. This couldn't be more wrong.

Of course if you offer a guarantee some people will take advantage of it - but if you quadruple your sales will you really care?

The added benefit in advertising, growth by word of mouth, and pure attractiveness of the product itself will increase sales so much that it will far outweigh the losses you'll incur by refunding someone's money or replacing someone's product every once in a while. Here are the statistics:

Only 1-2% of all your customers will ask for their money back or for a return. How do I get this number? Just ask yourself.

How many customers have complained about my product or service lately?

Unless you are truly doing something wrong, or are in the wrong business, I doubt your numbers will far exceed mine.

Lets look at an example:

If you sell a service and someone asks for their money back, you haven't lost out on any physical cash - only your time. You probably did the service wrong in the first place, or not as promised causing the customer to ask for their money back. You have actually gained something by this experience, learning what NOT to do next time. A small price to pay 1 % of the time to quadruple your sales.

If you sell a widget for 20$, which wholesale costs you $10, and you must refund someone's money - you're only out $10. Still a fair price to pay out of every $100 profit, especially if you were only making $25 profit over the same time period before. (That's the 4X sales guarantee working for you there.)

If you sell a widget for 20$, which wholesale costs you $10, and you must replace the product - you're only out $20. (And the customer got the added value benefit worth $40) Again, a small price to pay for the increase in sales you'll receive.

Finally - if you DO offer a guarantee TELL EVERYONE ABOUT IT! This is the only way you will see the benefits on your bottom line. Heck, you could even add it to your business's name, "Jay's Guaranteed Widgets" so its on everything you ever send out with your name on it. Now that's advertising your guarantee.

Add this technique to your business's practices, I guarantee it will increase your sales and profits.

FREE - INTERNET ADVERTISING!!!

Truly FREE Internet Advertising for your business. CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

*** Step 1. MP - "How to Gain More Business and Make More Money"

This is step one in the Marketin Plan series (MP)

The idea is simple really, yet most small business owners don't think it's quite necessary. It's a marketing plan. (And I mean one with substance people.) The plan should be a minimum of 6 pages for the small business owner, laid out for the year, with goals, how to obtain those goals, a time frame for each task, a budget and all. Large businesses have marketing plans hundreds of pages long.

As we continue posts to this blog, you'll see how easily you can create six pages of marketing material within your plan.

I have two words for those of you who still don't have a marketing plan.

Get One.

Step one is to sit down and think about where your business is really going. I don't mean think about what you sell (not yet anyways), if you're moving down the street or not next year, I mean what areas of your company are growing.

Just taking this one step at realizing which parts of your marketing plan from last year worked (if you had one) and which ones didn't, is a big step to improving upon your marketing efforts, attracting more business, and making more money.

If you concentrate more of your efforts in your biggest area of growth, I assure you next years growth will be monumental if not exponential.

Businesses must be flexible to stay alive. They must change with the times, or be left behind by their competition who are providing their customers with what they want. In-turn, your marketing plan must also be flexible. This is key - The world is changing where you see your highest growth rate. Focus here. 70% of your marketing efforts should be placed here - with what you KNOW is working. Leave the rest for trying new products, target market groups, or marketing areas, but don't spend more than 30% on these new areas. You want the most return on your investment, don't you? So spend it where it counts.

Now it's ok if last year you didn't have a marketing plan and aren't sure of where your highest growth rate came from, but that alone should show you the benefit of having a plan - that you can now shift funds and focus this years efforts on what you know brought the best return on your investment last year.

Some of you might be wondering how you know which part of your marketing plan brought the most business in. This can only be deciphered through a step in which even businesses with a marketing plan sometimes forget to put effort towards. You just have to follow up with your customers who come through the door. Whether it is a survey at the retail counter, an evaluation card that you place on the tables at your restaurant, or even face to face - just ask how they heard about your business. (More on follow ups and evaluation cards in a future post.)

So step one in creating this year's marketing plan is to review last year's (if you had one), and see what worked. If you didn't have a plan but did do some small time marketing campaigns, try to think about where most of your business came from. Focus 70% of this years efforts and budget here and you'll see an explosive growth on your bottom line.

Click here to read the next post in the MP series.

FREE Marketing Plan Analysis

Not getting the results you want? Unsure if you are spending money in the right areas to attract new prospects? Or do you just simply have questions which need an answers? I'd be happy to answer any questions my readers might have, and review their marketing plan at no cost. This consultation is something marketing agencies charge HUGE for - you can't afford to pass it up. The return on your investment is infinite since its FREE. Email me your questions, or give me a call and we'll find solutions to your marketing problems together. will@royallmedia.com, 386-747-1964

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"Cut the Middle Men - Cut Your Costs"

Wouldn't it be great to cut your costs while improving your market share? Most people don't realize that it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to acquire new customers - and that techniques such as television or radio ads don't cost near as much as you think - if you know how to cut out a few middle men!

If you own a business, and are looking to increase market share or expand the range of your marketing plan, extending into new territories, you probably already know that means re-shaping you plan to acquire new customers. This in turn also means new marketing materials that reflect your plan's new goals. But know this...

You don't have to pay a premium to get quality work.

This is way important, so listen up... Big time Ad Agencies are a thing of the past. They charge premiums for their "we do it all" services. No one likes to pay a premium when its not really necessary and the great news is that now days, in our turbulent job market, there are hundreds, I mean thousands, of freelancers out there that worked for these companies and they'll do the same work for you - but CHEAPER because they have no overhead.

That's right, these guys are the same people that laid out your print ad for you in the news paper, ran the audio mixer in the studio at the radio station, or edited your television commercial for Time Warner.

The day to day lowering of technology prices is creating a "do it at home" euphoria in the digital media world. This could be good, and this could be bad. It's good for business owners who use qualified freelancers to cut out the ad agency middle man, and bad for those business owners who take their marketing into their own hands, feeling that they can now "do it all themselves," when they simply lack the professional techniques, composition, and industry know-how of print layout, video editing, photography, etc.

What I mean is that even though the technology is cheaper - there is a reason that ad agencies take photographs that look more professional than your photographs at home. That's because their photographer is a professional, whom you can hire directly, just as you are an entrepreneur. But understand that it was the photographer and not the agency that made all the difference in the world.

You may be saying, "Yeah but I didn't go with a big agency... I went with Joe's production company." Please, be honest with yourself. Were you dealing directly with the guy who took the photo? The guy who edited the video? The guy who designed your ad? No? Then you went with an "agency" and someone skimmed a premium off the top.

Cut your costs by cutting out the middle man, but make sure you're not trying to cut out the professional. Do this and you'll see the quality remain in your advertising materials, while your costs to acquire the materials go down.

If you need help finding the right professional to meet your specific needs, you can contact me - I have a vast array of marketing contacts in my book, and I'll send them to you commission free.

Next time we'll talk about re-evaluating your marketing plan to begin targeting your growth areas to acquire new customers - while keeping your old ones of course. And remember, in doing so you could even save money... If you cut out the middle man.