Archive for the ‘Business Tips’ Category

Every business needs to market their product or service

There are many definitions for marketing and everyone has their own interpretation.  In simple terms marketing is what a business does to obtain new customers and keep them satisfied.  It’s a process that involves many aspects of business promotion and not limited to just advertising.  Most successful business owners believe the core value of good marketing is customer service and know without taking care of the customer’s needs all the sales and advertising in the world is not going to keep them.

Developing a plan

In developing a marketing plan there must be a clear understanding of what the customer wants, what they are willing to pay, where to locate them, and how to contact them.  Researching, gathering information, and putting it together into a plan with a clear focus will increase the chances of success.

Have a recognizable brand

Having a recognizable brand or identity distinguishes one business from rest.  This image sets the business apart and may identify it as a place for providing excellent service, have the best pizzas in town, be the most professional, have affordable prices or is the best place to purchase a product.

 Create an Identity

Creating an identity includes using both offline and online tools and depending on the type of business some methods work better than others. Traditional presentation is still important and includes stationery, business cards, brochures, sales letters and other related promotion material.  Trade shows, advertising, special events, direct marketing and other long-established methods still work and should not be ignored.

 A Company website

A company website creates an online presence and makes the business accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and is perfect for promoting new products or services, a place for potential customers to ask questions or buy products, providing information on the business, and can be used for recruiting employees.

Promoting online

Online promotion through social media networks should be a major part of every business’s plan.  It’s not complicated or time consuming and does not have to be expensive, nor is it just for big businesses with huge budgets.  The social network sites Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Digg as well as others when used properly can help build business relationships.

Take Action

Taking action is the next step but only after a decision is made on the types of marketing to be used and all the necessary tools in position. Having a system available to evaluate each step will make it much easier to know what does or does not work.

Build Relationships

Marketing is all about relationship building and connecting with potential clients.  Satisfied customers or clients will return and are more likely to refer others which helps keep the cycle going and the business thriving.

Marketing will be the key to success

Whether a business has been in operation for 10 years or is in the early start-up stage, marketing will be the key to its success.  A marketing plan provides the business with a clear understanding of the business and budget keeping them organized.  Knowing the needs of the customers guides the business in the right direction.

Here’s to your success!

Carol Ann Quibell

 

Carol Ann QuibellPromoting your business

It’s never too late to start promoting your business and since this is the beginning of a brand new year it’s a perfect opportunity to develop a marketing strategy by using both fresh new ideas and traditional methods that work.

With a clear understanding of what your business represents, who your target customer or client is and what you can offer them, your chances of success will be greatly improved.  That is not all though.  What are the long range goals for you and your business?  Where do you see yourself and your business in five, ten or twenty years?  Think about it, because it’s important.

A marketing plan is similar to planning a trip in your car.

You purchase a car, obtain a drivers licence and vehicle insurance, plan the destination, obtain a map, know your budget and arrange for accommodation and events.  Leave just one of those details out and your trip may still happen but probably not the way you thought it would.  Would you drive your car if it arrived without a steering wheel?  Of course not, so why would you operate a business without a marketing plan?  You will be all over the place.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t market your business in many different ways ~ you should. But having a plan keeps you focused, on track and more importantly, it gives you the tools to evaluate the success of your plan.

Branding your business

“Branding” seems to be the buzz word at the moment and what that actually means is creating an image for your business.  Only you know what type of appearance you and your business wish to portray.  There are a variety of methods used for creating an impression using tools both offline and online and depending on the type of business some work better than others. It’s essential not to focus on just online methods and ignore traditional ways of promoting offline because both methods are important.

Use traditional networking methods

There is no doubt that traditional networking works and it does because business owners are connecting with their customers and clients and creating an impression whether it is through face to face meetings, providing excellent customer service or just being in the right location.

Creating an Online Presence

Creating an online presence through a website and social media networks is also effective and definitely expands customer awareness and helps to establish a brand. Don’t let the thought of online marketing or social media cause your eyes to glaze over.  It’s not complicated or time consuming and does not have to be expensive, nor is it just for big businesses with huge budgets.  Online promotion should be a major part of every business’s marketing plan.

Take action on types of Marketing Planned

Taking action is the next step but only after a decision is made on the types of marketing to be used and whether they will include advertising, relationship building, direct marketing, promotions and events or other methods and all the necessary tools are in position. Having a system available to evaluate each step will make it much easier to know what does or does not work.  It’s perfectly acceptable to change your plan as you move forward as long as you know why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve by doing so.

Marketing is the key to a Business’s success

Whether a business has been operating for 10 years or is in the early start-up stage, marketing will be the key to its success. It does take creativity and a plan to follow, guiding it along the way – like a road map.  Remember it’s never too late so don’t delay – the time to start your new marketing plan is now!
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Wishing you success in your business,

Carol Ann Quibell

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Working remotely is a dream for many people.

If we could make a living by working remotely doesn’t it open up a whole world of possibilities?

Does anyone make millions of dollars online?

We hear all kinds of stories every day about people making millions of dollars working online and yes, there probably are people who are doing that well. The truth is that the actual number of success stories is really not that great. But, there are thousands of people all over the world who are making a decent living by working remotely over the internet. How do they do it?

The challenge of working remotely.

There are definitely challenges but they aren’t insurmountable. It will depend if you have decided to work from home at one location or whether you are moving around. I like to have the flexibility of working from wherever I am no matter if I am sitting in an airport, on a ferry, or in my home office. I like having everything necessary at my finger tips.
If working just from home then it is just a matter of setting up an office and ensuring you have all the tools necessary to work and communicate either with your employer or your clients. If you are more transient then it will come down to what tools you need to get the job done. A lap top computer, internet provider, and good communication tools should get you started. The tools you require to work remotely will depend on the type of work you will be doing.

Current employment

Could you do your current job from home? It may seem impossible but sometimes with a little bit of thought and planning it can be done. Before you run into your employer’s office and make the suggestion, it might be a good idea to sit down and come up with a plan, make sure it will work and then start with baby steps. Once your overall plan has been developed, suggest to your employer that you do it one day a week and when that proves successful you will be in a better position to ask to have it expanded to 2 or 3 days and eventually to full time.


Now, consider something. If you were sitting on the Gulf of Mexico or in your home office in Idaho, would it really make any difference to the work you are doing? Would you be just as productive? If you answered yes, then continue with your plan and make adjustments as needed and continue working for your current employer. There are benefits to being able to do this and that doesn’t only include a steady pay check.

Consulting

If you have been working or involved in any type of activity for awhile you are probably good at what you do. Offer your services as a consultant and by doing so are offering your knowledge, skills and experience to businesses or people who can use them. A consultant may make recommendations, or solve problems or provide specialized work. It will depend upon what your experience and employment background is. Don’t just concentrate on your work history though, because your hobbies or other skills could be in high demand. As a consultant you are an independent contractor and not an employee so can determine what work you will or will not do.

Coaching

Do you enjoy teaching others how to do something? Use your skills and experience and show others how to do the type of work you did or something else you are good at. I love helping small businesses get started and since my background includes operations management, entrepreneurial ventures, self employment and a variety of other things I have the skills and knowledge to coach others with their business plans.
Make a list of things you are good at, what skills you have, your experience, knowledge and give yourself the credit you deserve. Everyone is good at something and there is always someone who needs help doing the same thing. If you enjoy teaching, then this may be the way to go.

Project Networks or Outsource Providers

There are networks online whereby you exchange your skills for money. Projects of all types of work are posted and you as a contractor bid of them and if successful are awarded the contract and must provide the work. There are literally thousands of work opportunities posted at any one time but there is also a lot of competition and a person must be careful as to how they do this.

There are always learning tools available to show you how to create your profile, bid on jobs and what is recommended. Take the time to watch the videos and read their instructions. I is possible to make a living at this type of work but you must do it right. There are too many foreign contractors who will take the work from you for almost nothing. But as you develop a reputation as being efficient and reliable the work or contracts will increase. It takes time but is not impossible. An example of this type of network is Elance as well as cDesk. There are many more and by doing a good search you will find more.
Yes, there is competition by countries like India but if you are good at what you do, are reliable and reasonably priced (without giving it away for free) you should be able to build up a clientele list.

Online Business

Once again, use your skills and expertise and provide either a service or a product online. If you are selling something it may be your own product or someone else’s merchandise. Affiliate marketing is a business whereby you promote other’s products and earn a commission for doing so. It is possible to earn a living by being an affiliate marketer but it does require a lot of hard work.
Whatever services you can provide or product you have for sale, there is always someone who wishes to have them. It is just a matter of connecting and that means marketing yourself or your product. Writing, photography, business assistance, web site design, copywriting, researching, virtual assistance, travel agent and teaching are just some of the services you can provide online. I personally love affiliate marketingand know there is money to be made but it isn’t going to happen overnight.
The above samples are just a small number of ways of earning a living remotely from wherever you may be. The advantages are huge and the possibilities are endless. It does require hard work and dedication but isn’t anything that’s worthwhile?

All the best,

Carol Ann Quibell

PS:  Affiliate Marketing is something you can do from anywhere and even add it as an extension of what you are already doing.  You will need the Affiliate Marketers Handbook by Rosalind Gardner and it’s on sale!  Buy it today!

Having a website is part of doing business

Those businesses who don`t have a website are doing themselves a disservice. If your customers or clients cannot find you on the internet they will use your competitor’s services or buy their products and not yours. That is a fact. We can convince ourselves otherwise but no matter how we look at it anyone who is in business needs a website.

I recently interviewed several local authors who have written books and during the interview they were each asked if they had a website. Not one said yes. One author was easy to find because she is very instrumental in promoting local authors and is part of a provincial writing association. The others were not so easy to locate. What a shame, because their books are extremely interesting and important. By having a website each of these authors could be promoting their books and thus increasing sales.


Traditional marketing is not enough anymore. The phone book has almost become obsolete and with mobile devices and the internet the majority of customers look online for products or services.


I was at my daughter`s home awhile ago and asked for her phone book because I was looking for a local business and wanted their address. I was told that she didn’t have one and quickly searched on her mobile device for what I was looking for.


It doesn’t have to be difficult and it`s possible to have a site online in a few short hours. The first step is to register and purchase a domain name, contract the services of a web host server, download wordpress which is free and insert relevant content. I know it`s actually not that simple but those are the basic steps.

WordPress – Build your website Today


Domain Name: A domain name is the name you choose as the name for your website. This can be your business name, your personal name or something that represents the products or services you sell or perform. This must be registered and purchased and can only be used if no one else has already reserved it.


Choosing a name can appear to be daunting unless you are fortunate to have the name of your business or your personal name available. Probably you have heard how important it is to have names that people search for or recognize. For example if you have a shoe store in your community, then probably the name of your business is what your domain name should be. If not, choose something your customers would recognize so you are easy to find.


Example: One of my websites http://roamingrv.com had its name created as a resource for RVers while http://writefortravel.com is all about travel writing and travel. They have keywords in their names that are searched for regularly and so are easily found by anyone looking for their resources.


Companies that you can register your domain name are godaddy.com and yahoo.com but they are not the only ones. Prices vary from company to company so make sure you shop around comparing what they offer to others.


Web Host: This is a service provided to people or businesses to have their website accessible on World Wide Web. There are free web hosting services available but they may be limited in services that are offered.


It is preferable and recommended that web hosting be purchased and once again there are many organizations or companies that offer this service. There are all types of web hosting available but for the inexperienced it is advisable that they contract with a recommended reliable server.


Ask your friends or business associates what webhost server they use and do some research as to which will meet your needs. Once again compare packages and determine which one will be best for you and your business.


I personally use Hostgator and find their customer service to be excellent. Each and every time I have had questions or concerns they have responded immediately and stayed with me until my problem was corrected. I pay around $15.00 per month for an unlimited number of websites. However, there are other web host providers that are equally as good such as Reliable web hosting from Yahoo! Web Hosting – 25% off!


What is WordPress?


It is publishing software that is easy to use and has a very active community which is available for anyone needing information or assistance. Plus it is free. There are many free templates available that can be modified and plugins added to and are easy to work with. Although There are also templates available for purchasing which has more to offer but the free templates are perfectly acceptable for anyone just starting out. I still use the free template themes for many of my own sites. I also have purchased Genesis Framework and absolutely love it.


Download and Install WordPress:


WordPress is relatively easy to install and the process takes less than five minutes to complete. You will need access to your site and its directory and software before proceeding with the installation. This is usually done through the cPanel (hosting control panel) and using the web hosts tools. My Hostgator account offers Fantastico which automatically installs WordPress for me. Most web hosts offers tools for WordPress installation, making it much easier for the inexperienced.


Instructions as provided by WordPress for Fantastico


1. Login to your cPanel account and click on the Fantastico (or Fantastico Deluxe) option
2. Once you enter Fantastico on the left hand side there is a ‘Blogs’ Category under which WordPress is there. Click on it.
3. Click on the ‘New Installation’ Link in the WordPress Overview
4. Fill in the various details and Submit.
5. That’s it you are done!


Once your website is set up the next step is creating content and inserting it. It’s possible to have many pages, categories, sub-categories and sub-sub categories. Pictures, videos and articles can be posted and should be relevant to your product or service. Make it interesting and informative and by using the plugins and widgets available, your website will be completely yours and one of a kind.


You have now made it possible for your clients or customers to find you and have given them a reason to do business with you or your company.

All the best,

Carol Ann Quibell

If you find this post of interest you may wish to read: Online Business, Website Information, or Cost of Domain Names and Hosting

Well, for one thing if you don’t have a website how will your customers find you or know what products you provide?

  • It really doesn’t matter what business you operate. It could be a shoe store, a B & B, a photography studio, grocery store, bakery or you offer lawn mowing.  You must have a website – if only to list your services or products and contact information.  That is the minimum you must have on your website if you are a business looking for new customers or maintaining your current one.
  • Let’s look at the reason why many businesses don’t have a website. In doing some research and speaking with many small business owners many are still intimidated by the process, do not understand the importance of having one or think they can get along without one.  And yes, they can probably still operate without having a website but think how much better their business could be if they did have one.

  • Let’s use a shoe store for example.  You own a local shoe store and since you live in a small town, everyone knows you and come to you when they need shoes.  Wrong.  Yes, your regular customers probably will still come to you because they know and like you.  What about those potential customers who are searching for a specific brand of shoe that you carry but don’t know anything about you?  Today’s customers do not get in their car and drive from store to store looking for something.  They do a search online for exactly what they are looking for and when they find it (online) they will either contact the business directly via email or telephone and arrange a purchase or get specifics.  By not having a website you have just lost that potential customer who prefers to shop online.  They will probably be shopping at your competitor’s business or purchasing from another business hundreds of miles away.
  • A local bakery usually has weekly specials or promotions they like to offer their customers. What better way of getting the message out than posting promotions or sales on your website maybe offering coupons, contests, etc?   This is a form of advertising you cannot neglect.  Combine this with a bit of social media and you will get results you could not have seen without advertising online with your website.
  • Don’t let the website terminology scare you. It’s not a foreign language, even though it may seem so.  Here are some descriptions to help you understand what is involved.

Think of having a website as the same as having a physical location.

  1. You need an address – IP address/website
  2. A physical location – domain name – usually it is the name of you or your business and must be purchased.
  3. A landlord – web-hosting company - I usually recommend that the domain name and hosting company be different
  4. Different areas of the store – web pages
  5. Doors that people enter and leave from – bandwidth
  6. Janitor – website designer / maintainer

That’s enough for now. Next, we will break these down further and I will show you how easy it is to have a website for your business with an effective domain name and have it hosted with a reliable hosting service.  We will discuss what are the bare bone basics of what you need on your website and how easy it is to make it happen. How will you get your mail? What shopping cart or shopping basket will you use and what do you want to use for a cash register.  Really important is your security system.

Confused about WebsitesDon’t be intimidated by the idea of having a website for your small business – it’s possible to have one up and running in a matter of hours and it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune.  Just think of it in terms of having a physical address for your store and what it intails – its the same when you operate online.

We will be talking about the same things that are important to your physical business – how will you receive your mail? What furniture do you need? Do you want shopping baskets or shopping carts? What type of cash register do you need?  Do you need a security system?  It makes more sense when you break it down into small bite size pieces.

All the best,

Carol Ann QuibellPS: If you want to do some name searches for your domain name visit GoDaddy – it’s low cost, good service and very reliable.  I use it when registering my domain names or those of my clients.


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