How To Prepare Your Small Business For The “Year Of Content Marketing”

Many well-known experts in the world of advertising and marketing have declared 2013 to be the “Year of Content Marketing”. At its core, content marketing is a strategy that uses various forms of written information to inform and educate prospective customers about different features and benefits of the company or the products and services being sold.

Instead of just giving a direct sales pitch for the product (e.g. “You should buy our widget now because it will make you rich and famous”), a content marketing strategy might be to write an article or blog post about the wonderful experience a customer had with your widget and how it completely transformed his life. Or perhaps it might be an article about how the widget is made by a small family business that only uses 100% recycled materials in the production process.

The point is that a content marketing strategy seeks to inform, educate and even entertain with information that would ultimately lead the prospect to choose your company or your product.

The “content” could take many different forms. As mentioned earlier, it could be an article or a blog post on your company’s website. Or it could be an article posted to one of the many article submission sites (such as EzineArticles.com) that includes links back to your product pages on your website. And many small businesses are now creating video reviews and presentations that can be shared via their website and other social media channels.

“But I’m just a landscaper” (or HVAC tech, or whatever), you say! “What do I know about writing articles?”

Actually, you already know everything you need to know to become successful at content marketing. Your customers (and potential customers) just want useful and relevant information from your specific area of expertise. They want you to share little pieces of knowledge with them that can help them make more informed buying decisions and help the become more successful in using your product or service.

Costly Mistakes Made With Your Business Entity

Investing in a powerful tool and not using the tool properly does not make a lot of sense. I know when it comes to running a business it requires multiple hats to wear and very often you are off and running on 10 different projects, calls, appointments, presentations… and perhaps the very foundation of your business may be in jeopardy. Here are the top costly mistakes I have seen made over the past 15 years:

Not completing the transition from a sole proprietorship to a separate legal entity. If you started a business in your own name for a few months before you formed an entity odds are part of what you did you completed as an individual and you need to connect the dots to the new entity. If you filed a DBA (doing business as) with yourself as the applicant that needs to be cancelled and re-linked to the entity. That means your entity needs to be the applicant, not you! If you don’t do this you still are exposed to unlimited liability and filing a schedule C with a higher audit potential. Next, point is to open a bank account in the name of the business, not just keep the account in your personal name. Use a business credit card in the name of the entity, not just your personal credit card and keep track of expenses. You will want to minimize the amount of debt that shows up in your personal name. Update all affiliate programs, vendors with your new entity information so any income is going to your business entity, not to your name personally. Update your websites, business cards, letterhead with the new name of your business. Another important tip make sure your website is in compliance, most are not.

Funding concerns. 95% of businesses fail within 5 years and undercapitalization is the #1 reason. The pattern I have seen is that small business owners are mostly hoping for revenue to come in as the primary source of money to grow their business. What happens if your revenues are off or don’t come in at all? You may be working on that great new product and all your emails go out and no one converts. That is a real problem. The key is to model success. Almost all successful companies do not use only their own money to grow. I know you know the concept, “OPM”, other people’s money, yet are you doing that? Are you only self funding your business on your own personal credit? Did you know that once the entity was filed the business credit bureaus will start creating a file. They scan the Secretary of State’s records to create a file with any new filings. They look for the name of the business, the start date, and name of the officers/managers the address… If you are not paying attention on how you fill out forms with the business address, business license, state forms you can create disconnects in the database. In one business credit bureau, NCP is spelled four different ways. The NCP part is the same, but one way has “Inc.”, one has “,Inc.” other has “, Inc” and the last one is “Inc”. Did you notice the differences with the comma and period? That created four different files! Don’t make that same mistake. Unlike the personal credit bureaus, the business credit bureaus are very difficult to fix any mistakes. They have their own set of rules and are not set up for changes after mistakes happen. This creates a problem when it comes to developing credit for your entity because you basically have one shot at the apple to get it right the first time. Banks and vendors are very interested in your financial strength of your company. Now joint venture partners can check you out for free to determine who stable is your operation. You may be losing business and not knowing it. It is really a must to be financially solid in your business and your developing business credit is a must for your long term success.

Marketing For Freelancers and Entrepreneurs – Selling Yourself in the New Economy

The new economy is a competitive place and you’ll have to be a marketer in order not to be marginalized by the marketplace.

In brief: If you cannot market and sell your ideas to your employers and colleagues, you’ll be exploited and under-paid.

Fifty years ago, giant corporations offered a lifetime of job security and upward mobility. Today you’ll have to be more flexible in your working skills because chances are the jobs you are doing today will not be the ones you are doing in 5 or ten years.

In our current 2010 economic meltdown in the United States, we have a chorus of workers demanding the government create jobs. I’m not too astute about politics or economics, but it seems to me that the workers should be busting their buns to get new skills with more value in the new economy instead grousing about the loss of the obsolete jobs they lost.

In the news, a factory worker who for 25 years has put in his hours and spent his off-time watching television rather than bettering himself cries angrily at the government to replace his lost job. I ask this: how many books has he read in the last year about improving his earning capacity by learning new skills?

I am not being political here. It is a very practical matter. If your skills are no longer valued where you are, you have two basic options to improve your standard of living:

1. Go to where your skills are valued. The move may be geographical but if you are a knowledge worker and not a physical worker, you may be able to work remotely.

2. Learn new skills that are valued or will be valued where you are.

During the industrial revolution workers moved from farms to cities in order to do better financially. It did not always work out for workers, but consider that 19th century farming was pretty unscientific and unpredictable, the idea of stable, long-term industrial employment was attractive to poor rural folk.

In today’s shifting new economy the likelihood of you becoming very prosperous doing any form of work other than knowledge work is remote. Knowledge work can be creative work and it can involve physical activity, but the driving force behind the value a knowledge worker provided is not in his or her muscles, but between his or her ears.

Price is Not a Market Differentiator For Entrepreneurs

Are you struggling with market share, disloyal customers and pricing? If your market share is steady or declining, if your sales force can talk of nothing other than pricing then you need to take a good hard look at your business growth and your business plan.

We live in a business environment where market share is really tough to get. Customers are no longer loyal – they will go where they perceive they get the best deal and that does not always mean only price although price is a big piece of it. There is still service, personal contact, tightly targeted marketing, value add and yes, some loyalty that makes up perceived value.

There are very few businesses that can operate on a low price strategy. It is very difficult to do and you must have the systems, scale and infrastructure that will allow you to do that not to mention vendors who are willing to operate at prices that you need and want. Walmart is a good example of this. They are huge and they have everything in place to make it work. You are not Walmart and you cannot compete on a low price strategy alone. If you try to you will probably under value your own company and find that you are not financially able to grow.

What you need to do is to invest in your business strategy. Work with a coach to make sure you have done a good job and that it is complete and solid. The revisit it quarterly so you can make mid-course corrections as needed to stay ahead of your market.

Branding Technology is the Same But Different

Branding is a word which is often perceived as the preserve of arty creative types paid too much money to come up with simple, even simplistic ideas. Moreover, with regard to firms which produce technology goods and whose focus is mired in the complexity of features and engineering, brand management is often very low on the food chain. However, the brand is as vital to any technology firm as it is to all firms, places, people even.

For technology firms to achieve sustainable and long-term competitive advantage a volte face is required with regard to how they position their products whilst they jockey for position in a crowded market. The short-term gains afforded by a myopic focus on technical specs and the scant regard paid to the emotional resonance which really gets people to buy your stuff means that many tech firms will not survive much more than the next ten years let alone successive generations.

The rule is that we buy on emotion and justify with logic. The logic is important and any help we can get to articulate that is helpful, but the real deal happens at gut level. Any firm worth its salt needs to have a clear idea of what this emotional stuff is, which really sets you apart and can be the lode star which assures customers of the consistency of the quality you offer.

The following describes the different considerations which are necessary for the successful branding of technology goods – and that is a whole lot more exciting than it sounds. The pre-supposition is that tech goods are branded differently to more common-or-garden consumer goods. Net, there are indeed important differences in the way one should develop, manage and nurture a technology brand as opposed to a common consumer product or service.

Consider those which might immediately spring to mind: Google, Apple, Cisco et al versus Quaker Oats, South Western Trains, De Beers’ diamonds. All are household names. The former are the winners in the tech universe which have successfully traversed the divide from tech firm to broad-consumer brand.

Essentially, the challenge for technology companies is both to sell to groups of consumers on the strength of features and at the same time establish the firm as a recognised company brand name which cuts through the incredible complexity of technological change and renders our purchase choice to buy (their products and services) a no-brainer – we just buy yours! It’s such a noisy and confusing world out there. For instance, many of us find the purchase of a mobile phone an obstacle course to translate the plethora of features into a simple choice: this phone or that? Oh hang on, what about that one?

Top Ten Branding Mistakes As Identified by Brand Research Company

Marketing research helps companies know the answers to critical brand questions, not just guess at them. Creating brand strategy without timely and accurate information isn’t just risky – it’s difficult and wastes resources. Understanding the market, what they want and need and how your brand is going to play allows you to focus all of your resources on hitting the target. Research helps prevent common brand marketing mistakes.

1. Losing control of your brand. Companies that let any outside agency or organization take control of and define their brand are in for trouble. No one knows your brand – internally and externally – like you do and you should never cede this power to another.

2. Not establishing a differentiation. Differentiation is the one thing that makes any brand stand out from the crowd and gives the customer a reason to choose it. If a brand is not differentiated, any competitive advantage is eliminated and it is probably becoming commoditized.

3. Benign neglect. Most companies are not directly hurting their brands, but they are not strengthening and enhancing them either. They are treating them with benign neglect, possibly the most vulnerable brand state.

4. Not defining a target market. No one brand can be “all things to all people.” If you are trying to do that by avoiding targeting a specific market segment, you will end up being “nothing to everyone.”

5. Not aligning promise and delivery. The number of brands who do not deliver on their brand promise is legion. Why waste advertising dollars making a promise that your organization is simply going to break? Not only does this waste today’s marketing budget, it can actually erode any positive equity your brand may hold.

6. Not making branding “Everyone’s Responsibility.” Marketing alone cannot continually build and strengthen the brand. If everyone in the organization is not holding the brand promise as a decision standard and a behavior guide, then Marketing’s best efforts will fall short.

7. Changing too much or too often. Brands do not change radically; they evolve. A well defined brand with a strongly differentiated position doesn’t need to change too frequently. If you find yourself looking for a new brand position every couple of years, slow down, do some research and get it right. Then stick with it.

The Brand Story Web Marketing Process

If websites have one overarching goal it is to create confidence in whatever the website is promoting and who’s promoting it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a product, a service, a sales campaign, or an idea, if the presentation is not minimally credible or optimally motivational, then it fails as a means of marketing communication.

Communicate to the Subconscious Mind

Branding is often thought of as a marketing strategy reserved for major consumer product companies, but the fact is all businesses are brands that are either cultivated so they blossom, or let go-to-seed like a garden full of weeds.

Marketing neophytes often think of branding only in terms of some physical manifestation, like a logo, but a brand is the full complement of residual impressions resulting from all the experiences associated with a product, service or company. And today, the online experience is a vital venue for creating those experiences.

By using video, the marketer has the opportunity to tap into the audiences’ subconscious mind, the buried remnants of both remembered and forgotten experiences; the kind of experiences that form attitudes, prejudices, and preferences that inform our decisions, most importantly our buying decisions.

Where Businesses Go Wrong

Where businesses go wrong is settling for only the obvious, the logical, and the rational. Brands are formed in the subconscious, so if your marketing communication doesn’t reach the subconscious mind then it is not establishing or enhancing the brand in any meaningful effective long-term way.

What video does, when done right, is communicate on both the obvious and subconscious levels, making it the ideal Web-communication vehicle for creating a powerful brand experience, but only if you understand how to use the presentation and performance elements available.

Considering how powerful a tool Web-video can be, it amazes me how so many normally intelligent business people can opt for second-rate presentations. The do-it-yourself and user-generated efforts compete for the booby prize with the mindless corporate drivel – they all miss the point: a persuasive motivating presentation must communicate on multiple levels.

Brand Naming in Different Chinas

Linguistic, Cultural, and Economic Concerns of Brand-Locality Inconsistencies

The allure of the Greater China market has been on the radar of foreign firms for decades. The sheer size, and in many instances, the wealth of the Chinese-speaking world has been a considerable attraction to many Western firms.

To tap the large Chinese markets, several foreign firms have seized opportunities to develop their Chinese presence through local investment in branding. Through rigorous branding, they were able to simultaneously gain footholds across different regions in the Chinese-speaking world.

Yet many of the same firms also came to realize that the Chinese-speaking market is not a singular monolith. Not only are there many political boundaries among the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Singapore, there are numerous cultural differences and various levels of economic development shaped by the diverging heritages of and sometimes the political policies enacted in the different localities.

Such differences forced numerous foreign firms to deliberately distinguish their strategies in the different Chinese-speaking localities. For the duration of this article, the focus will be on the different brands used by foreign firms in the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong markets. A small scale research, conducted by the LABReport team, revealed the pervasiveness of such brand-locality inconsistency. Of the 5 top automobile manufacturers in the world, 4 of them have at least one brand name with different translation in Hong Kong and mainland China. Research showed similarly high percentages among top manufacturers in cosmetic and athletic products.

Trying the Ways of Sales Funnel Building Software

Business is a boisterous affair these days. You have plenty of people taking interest and initiative to bring business to the right point of success. To make people yield great in-store, you can make use of sales funnel building software. The funnel makes people enter the business arena with the expectation to make a successful purchase at the end. It is essential to know the clickfunnels shipping cost. Once the price is known, you can best deal with the software with detailing. The sales funnel builder is known for creating sales and profit. The method is unique and universal. The software used for the funnel construction can make a real difference in business.

Categorical Advantages of Clickfunnels

Clickfunnels is the most popular and categorical funnel builder of the era. It is the most competent tool in the field with the best of features and perfections. It is the best in the area with the perfect set of particularities. Clickfunnels is a popular and trusted tool to help in the process of online marketing. The funnel can cause an increase in the rate of profits and leads. Compare clickfunnels annual pricing. It can make the business grow positively. Using the same can cause possible business hike. It can also help in matters of better lead conversion. The solution is excellent and trusted. It can change the face of business. Clickfunnels works in making the leads grow with the building of the successful sales funnel.

Clickfunnels in Building Traffic

Sales funnel builder can help in boosting traffic and can highly convert the traffic to visitors. You can use the platform of sales funnel for the successful making of the landing page. It is the safest way you can perform business activities with the best of choices. Clickfunnels is the simple drag and drops sales funnel builder. It is the secured way of making funnel pages for the proper boost in business. Read more to know Clickfunnels in details.