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The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. Peter Drucker

People fail at marketing for a variety of reasons. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive but here are the most common reasons I encounter:

  1. Never been trained in marketing
  2. Don’t understand the psychology of marketing
  3. Are not consistent in their marketing message
  4. Don’t ask for help because they don’t know who to trust
  5. Don’t want to do it for themselves
  6. Don’t know what works and do not want to spend the money

Let’s look briefly at each reason.

Never Been Trained in Marketing

Many of my clients have not been trained in marketing. They are engineers, cleaning companies, payroll specialists, merchant service providers or insurance specialist. They are experts in their field but not in communicating their value to others. The words they use reflect a lack of clarity in who they are and the value they provide. These small business owners are too close to see clearly their value. Because they are too close and cannot see themselves and their value as others see them, they talk in platitudes: many locations, peace of mind and financial security, without context.

Don’t understand the psychology of marketing

Marketing is nothing more then explaining what you do, why it is important and who should care. Always remember most people take action to avoid pain. Marketing is helping other understand how their life will be better when they buy your product, go to your restaurant, use your services.

Are not consistent in their marketing message

Marketing is about communicating your value proposition consistently. You cannot do a post on Facebook one time and expect to get results. One blog post won’t do it not will sending one postcard. It is about defining the buyers journey and walking with the prospect along the buyer’s journey.

Don’t ask for help because they don’t know who to trust

There are so many people who claim to be marketing experts that do not promote their product or service well. They love social media and expect others to see the same value. I can see why people are concerned about making a bad decision. I am appalled by some of the marketing messages that come across my desk by other marketers who want me to use their services.

Don’t want to do it for themselves

Many people know what to do and do not want to do it themselves. Dan Kennedy said it best, “do not outsource your marketing until you know what works. Otherwise, you are wasting money.” No one knows your business like you do. You may need some help with the message, strategy or tactics but you are the final decision-maker.

Don’t know what works and do not want to spend the money

There are so many choices a small business owner has when marketing his business. Ask yourself this question, “where does of my business come from today?” and do more of that. Don’t look for a social media expert, direct mail expert or SEO expert until you know where you should spend your time. After that continue to add one option until you know that works. Then consider outsourcing.

Ron Finklestein

About Our GE Network Expert - Ron Finklestein

After a successful consulting career, Ron Finklestein has spent the past 6 years building his business AKRIS Inc and helping entrepreneurs and business owners build their businesses by helping them solve the tough problems that hold them back. Ron is called The Small Business Success Expert by his clients because of his passion for their success and his knowledge of business. Visit Ron's website at http://ronfinklestein.com.



 
  


08Mar

Creating Your Logo: The Fundamentals

Posted by Pamela Swift in Starting Up

Article Contributed by Rosanie Martinez

Many new or aspiring entrepreneurs know the importance of a company logo. As a matter of fact, ask any new (and young) entrepreneur about the first things they did, and there’s a good chance that one of the first things they worked on was a logo that should be easy to recognise and works well in building their overall reputation from the start.

When creating a logo, one of the things you should do is to go on a search engine to check out big and small companies and their logos. In the process, you will find logos and elements that look great, and you might want to create something similar or incorporate those elements to your logo. While it’s generally a good idea to incorporate what works, you should only do so if it helps articulate whatever message the logo needs to convey. Otherwise, the symbol is rendered meaningless.

What’s Your Message?

Ultimately, the process of logo creation involves translating your message—your business’s purpose—into an image. So make sure that you know the reason why you’re running that kind of business in particular. To make the purpose of your business crystal clear to you, you need to write a clear mission and vision statement.

Logo creation also involves deciding on what distinct ‘personality’ your company should have. Is it serious, or is it lighthearted? What ‘quirks’ does your company alone have? What types of customers are you targeting?

Standing Out

Find a logo that’s similar to yours? Look for a way to make your logo different from that logo. Adding another element is the best way you can go about doing this.

Flexibility

The logo should work on Banner Pen, a business card, a billboard, or on the siding of a truck. It must be scalable, memorable, distinct, and easy to reproduce. While your logo can include a silhouette or even an illustration of something that represents your product or service, it might become indecipherable once reduced or enlarged significantly. So if you have an illustration on your logo, consider changing it.

You should also make sure that the logo you create is one that you can reproduce in black and white. This way, all elements of the logo are still clear even if photocopied, faxed, or used in an ad with only black and white colours.

Mind Your Company Name (and the Nature of Your Business), Please

If your company specialises in the creation and sales of jewelry, you are better off creating a classy logo. If the word ‘lighting’ is part of your company name, you can make an illustration of a light bulb part of your logo.

Beware of Clip Art and Stock Logos

While the use of stock logos and clip art can be tempting due to their accessibility, they are so easy to copy. And because they are so easy to copy, using them makes it even more difficult to stand out among your competitors. With original art, you not only stand out among other businesses similar to yours, you make a better impression of your company.

Notes on Current Logo Trends

Do you have an existing logo you think looks out of style? Avoid redesigning an existing logo just because you feel that you should adapt to new trends in logos. By doing so, you risk alienating your present and future customers from your brand. However, if you believe you should make changes, implement each element gradually.

Other Things You Need to Know About Logo Creation and Conclusion

While a logo with many colours is beautiful on a screen, the cost of transferring it to a stationery can be very high. It may also not look that good. For this reason, it’s better that your logo have only a maximum of three colours, unless you really think it’s important that your logo have more than three colours.

Logo design is serious business, so be prepared to pay the logo designer in the thousands. Fortunately, spending that much is not necessary, what with the many freelance designers you can find online. But make sure to hire someone who is familiar with the kind of business you run. Professionals with such knowledge know how your logo SHOULD look like.


Article Contributed by Walter Moore

The SEO and SEM business has grown by leaps and bounds from the simple concepts behind online marketing to a tremendously complex set of tasks. There is a whole lot of jargon involved and an even larger list of confusing prerequisites which wards a lot of people off, but it is vital that you start optimizing your business’ presence and reach through targeted SEM. To put it into extremely simple terms which even the least tech-savvy CEOs will be familiar with; there are really only three aspects to the whole process, and these three should be the pillars on which you build every strategy and take every decision. They are Rankings, Revenue, and Reputation. Here’s how you go about Local SEO optimization for your business.

Complying with Guidelines

There are two vital steps to this- the first being determining whether the business is classified as local by Google’s guidelines; the second is to go through these guidelines extensively to ensure that the business isn’t violating them or spamming in any way. These steps are instrumental in protecting the online reputation of the brand and also showing that the business does not deal in spam and black hat tactics. Penalties to rankings are avoided, and you don’t spend funds or time on ineffective and counterproductive practices.

Developing the Website

This is a three-step process. You must first develop a clean, fully functional website which has a proper UX across all users and devices. You can also tune up your existing site to resolve any such issues. Next, develop as much relevant, quality content as you can to set your website apart. Then, you can optimize the site for organic search, local search, and conversions, all at once.

This builds reputation, protects rankings, boosts visibility and also ushers in tremendous results in organic and local search. Each of these steps builds the site’s legacy in the long-term, and hence saves revenue in terms of UX optimizations and time spent in reinventing the wheel to have a functional website.

Reviews

Start off by enforcing and perfecting customer service policies across all divisions of the company. Next, come up with a solid review acquisition strategy across major citation platforms and also for your website. When the reviews start coming in, try to respond to each one. This communication and conflict resolution builds trust with the consumer base and boosts the reputation. Several positive reviews boost rankings too, and revenue gets a great boost thanks to trust-based transactions.

Link-Building

You should look into your website’s pre-existing link strategy for any issues with linking and try to resolve them. The next logical step would be to develop exceptional content which would organically earn you links from genuine, reliable sources. Use local sponsorships, contributions to editorials and other relevant opportunities to build links on reputed sites as well. This association with the best of the best is critical to online reputation management, as it lumps your business with top names and not shoddy practices. This builds rankings over time and pays superb dividends on the initial investment in terms of conversions and traffic from previously untapped sources.

Social and Other Media

Find all the hubs frequented by your target audience and develop a customized social strategy for optimum reach and participation. Put in a genuine effort for sharing and reaching out rather than just selling, and monitor your accounts for any grievances put forward. Also look into alternative media like video and email marketing and development of apps, tools, and widgets. It is understandable if you don’t have the expertise for this, hiring a reliable bulk email marketing services Mumbai firm is absolutely the right thing to do. This boosts reputation, protects rankings and reels in revenue like never before.

Conclusion

It’s surprising that the idea of local SEO and online reputation management is still viewed so skeptically by business owners. While technical jargon does seem daunting at first, entrepreneurial instincts should tell you that this is the next logical step, and not jumping on the bandwagon now will have severe consequences in the future.

Author Bio: Walter Moore is an SEM expert and marketer spearheading a startup in Chennai. He also runs a successful blog revolving around resources on SEO and SMM and reliable references like GingerDomain.com.


Starting a business can be extremely demanding. There’s a constant need to multitask effectively to accomplish more in less time. You’ve to drive your business towards long-term sustainability, while ensuring that everyday operations are managed efficiently. Thankfully, plenty of amazing applications are available to make your phone your very own IT workstation.

With every passing day, technology is making things possible we never imagined. Managing finances, accessing emails on-the-go, making to-do lists, delegating tasks, mobile marketing and so much more is now possible with a simple touch on your smartphone.

Exclusive applications are designed keeping in mind young start-ups and small business owners. Recent statistics show that 71% of small business owners in the United Kingdom run most of their operations through mobile apps. This helps in bringing down the administration cost and scaling the business.

From the endless list of apps, here are 6 mobile applications that assist startups across industries in staying functional, connected and organized:

  1. PayPal

Compatibility: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Since its inception in 1998, PayPal has facilitated millions of businesses and consumers through transactions in billions of dollars. PayPal Here, the mobile payment system, was launched in 2012 and has been a delight for small business owners as it assists seamless monetary transactions and instant money deposits. It enables contactless payments from Maestro, Visa or MasterCard credit and debit cards for a small fee. The charge levied ranges between 1.5% and 2.75% of the total sales volume.

PayPal account services are compatible even with your smartwatch. The app charges no monthly fee, and allows you to send and receive electronic invoices, process checks, and perform other payment-related services. Keeping the growing number of small-scale businesses in mind, the brand has launched a complete range of Point- of-Sale (POS) solutions, with countertop charging stations and lockable iPad enclosures.

  1. Dropbox

Compatibility: Android and iOSPrice: Free and upgradable at extra cost

One of the most popular and trusted solutions for cloud storage, Dropbox allows you to store, share, and sync important business data through its seamless app. This amazing app has over 500 million users and is growing continuously since its launch in 2016. Dropbox app supports over a billion files that are uploaded on a daily basis, and these files can be accessed anywhere through laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

The app offers excellent security features such as the SSL encryption, mobile passcodes, and two-step authentication. Opt for its paid version to avail 1TB of cloud space at $8.25 per month, and enjoy unlimited cloud storage at $12.50 per month. The paid version also includes enhanced security features, and support for phone and email.

  1. Wave

Compatibility: Android and iOS

Price: Free with country-based charges for payroll and credit card processing

A no-fuss app, Wave offers a free platform for small businesses to manage accounting books and send invoices. If your business has less than 15 employees, Wave is your best option. It takes care of expense tracking, invoices, and scanning receipts. The app allows you to integrate services with PayPal as well.

Wave has over 2.5 million paid and free users all over the world. It aids in both, cash and accrual-based accounting and comes to users at a low cost as compared to the other apps in the same category.

  1. Google Drive

Compatibility: Android and iOS

Price: Limited free space, upgradable at extra cost

Straight from the mastermind workshop of Google, Drive comes to young startups and small business owners as a comprehensive system for data management. It allows you to create new documents, worksheets, presentations. You can edit and synchronize them with email, once you connect it to your Gmail account.

New businesses that sign up for the amazing Google Drive app have to pay $5 per user every month. The entire suite including Google Hangouts, Calendar, Drive, Gmail, and Google Docs comes to you with 24/7 customer support and is compatible with Microsoft Outlook along with other email clients.

  1. Trello

Compatibility: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Trello can make your life as a manager extremely easy. The app is a brilliant productivity tool, yet simple to use. Don’t assume it to be just a to-do list app. It’s a great help in planning projects and keeping tabs on every project at any given point, thus enhancing visibility across all departments.

You can create task cards board to distribute work and keep tabs on the progress, completion and deadlines of the project. Leave comments and keep your team up-to-date with the developments and announcements. The app also gives you a historical record of the actions and changes you’ve made in a particular project.

  1. Local Vox

Compatibility: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Enhancing the power of your business on social media just got easier. Local Vox allows you to publish and promote your services across all major social media platforms. It helps businesses in marketing themselves locally and expand their circle through the network of publishers, email newsletters, search, and also the company’s own website.

Local Vox app facilitates easy communication with the push of a single button and optimizes your ranking on Google and numerous local directories such as CitySearch, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and more. The app creates a mobile website and allows to publish updates automatically. It offers monthly reports that enable owners to access productive business metrics.

Conclusion

From among the various great apps available for small businesses, the one you pick for your trade largely depends on the needs of your business. An assessment of the budget, and compatibility and usability vis-à-vis the application needs to be done carefully to select the best app to accentuate the growth of your business operations.

About the Author

Swati is a qualified dietitian at Practo. She has a Masters degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management. She is a strong believer in spreading the goodness of ‘nutrition through healthy eating’. As a responsible dietitian Swati examines her patients’ health history carefully before recommending any diet or workout regimen, because everybody has different requirements.


As the owner of a small business, it’s your job to become a Jack of all trades in your company. Unfortunately, by doing everything at once, it makes it much easier to make avoidable mistakes.

The worst part is these avoidable mistakes can threaten the long-term health of your otherwise thriving business. So it’s vital to know common mistakes that small business owners tend to make so that you can avoid them in the future.

How Clear Is Your Purpose?

If you ever intend to achieve lasting success in your business, you need to clearly define your purpose and strive to achieve what you set out to do.

As a small business owner, it’s your job to spend time developing a vision, a mission, and ultimately a purpose for your organization.

It really doesn’t even matter what type of business you start. It can be a dry cleaner, a restaurant, a delivery service, or anything else for that matter.

Ultimately, you need to understand your mission. You need to discover why your company exists and why people would want to purchase your products and services.

At the end of the day, once you’ve discovered your purpose, you’ll find it easier than ever to determine which direction your business should go. So having a purpose and knowing what it is is certainly a step in the right direction.

Choosing the Perfect Name for Your Business

To some people, this might seem like a superficial mistake on the surface. But when it comes to branding, marketing, and attracting people to your company, picking the perfect name is absolutely crucial to your success.

As an example, let’s say you plan to open an auto body shop. But unlike all the other auto body shops in the neighborhood, you plan to guarantee your work will be complete in a specific amount of time.

With that said, it would make sense to come up with a name for your business in alignment with this goal.

You wouldn’t want to call yourself Turtle Auto Body Repair or Slowpoke Body Shop!

On the contrary, you’d want to call yourself Speedy Body Shop or something similar.

So never discount choosing your name. It really is that important.

According to SecStates.com, nationwide and Georgia business entity search website, “Find information on any corporation or business entity in the United States by performing a search on the Secretary of State website of the state or territory where the corporation is registered.”

So, if you feel like you’ve come up with the perfect name for your business, check with your local Secretary of State to find out if the name is still available.

It’s possible that somebody else is already using it, so you may have to come up with another name.

Starting Your Business without a Budget

When you first start a small business, money is often very tight in the beginning. This is true unless you already have achieved business success in other areas and you have nearly unlimited capital to spare.

For most new small businesses, it’s often imperative to operate within a strict budget.

This is where problems typically arise.

Most small business owners fail to create a budget in the beginning. And they accidentally overspend in certain areas that will immediately leave them fighting to stay afloat.

Sure, you’re going to incur expenses when you first start a business. That’s all part of the risk and reward process. You should avoid spending needlessly and never purchase things that aren’t within your budget.

Conclusion

It’s definitely challenging to run a successful small business. So create your mission statement, make budgeting a top priority, and choose the perfect name for your business.

If you can accomplish these things, achieving startup success will become a little bit easier.



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