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Archive for April, 2009

Get some…(free) education!

Recalling my earlier post about (FREE being a good price, and FREE love… I’m a big fan of “if you have a gift at something, you share it.” Perhaps it’s all that Catholic school (no lights under a bushell, and such) but I think this journey is a lot easier when people give one another [...]

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Some Laid Off Workers Turn to Franchising

The past 18 – 24 months have been tough on corporate America. I’m based in Charlotte (home of Bank of America and Wachovia/Wells Fargo) and many of my friends that work for the bank are always nervous. A lot of these people were also able to store up a nest egg and once they get [...]

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Can CPM (cost per thousand) banner advertising keep up with current online marketing trends?

A few years ago, banner advertising was at the forefront of online marketing resources. As banner advertising rose to popularity, more and more business owners began to incorporate the costs of banner advertising into their marketing budget, enticed by the fact that they would be able to quantifiably track which ads their website visitors were clicking on. And, with the emergence of banner ads came the beginning of ROI driven advertising.

Considering recent improvements in online marketing strategies, as an entrepreneur with a start-up company, you may be asking yourself if so-called ‘traditional’ online marketing (CPM banner ads) is still a relevant and efficient way to reach your target market.

Marketing strategies are definitely not cut and dry so the answer to any marketing strategy question will almost always begin with “It depends.” If you are a small to mid-sized businesses, you have many options in the realm of online marketing, in which case traditional banner advertising can be put at the bottom of your list of priorities.

Keeping today’s economy in mind, every business, including start-ups, should create a marketing plan with programs correlated to immediate ROIs. Here are several recommended marketing strategies that are typically useful to start with:

  • If it is possible, always start with affiliate relationships. Affiliates or lead generation companies (usually defined as another company that will sell or refer your services or products for a share of your received revenue) can be helpful in that they do not cost you an up-front investment for the customers you can attain through them. If you can find good affiliates, it is imperative that you treat them well, as they will not likely stay with you if you do not provide them any value in return for their services.
  • Businesses with sales departments should maximize their pay-per-lead advertising budget. There are hundreds of thousands of companies that utilize this service because it works, and it is also tied to immediate ROI.
  • Consider PPC and CPA advertising, which only require you to pay for an action. For example, you would only pay Google if a visitor clicked on your site.
  • Don’t forget about social media and SEO as they are great channels for promoting your business.
  • Google is now recognizing video in search results and SEO experts believe video will help efforts more and more in the future. If you’re working with an SEO company, make sure they offer video at a relatively low-cost. One option I recommend is Running Stills.
  • When it comes to most marketing strategies, starting small, tracking your results, finding a sales approach that works, and then expanding, can best lead to success.

If you’re still wondering whether or not you should use CPM banner advertising, consider the size of your business. For larger companies, banner ads are a very effective way to drive traffic as well as enhance your ROI in every aspect of your advertising agenda. Smaller companies and start-ups should consider implementing programs that are tied to a direct return of investment rather than jumping right in to banner ads.

The bottom line is that CPM banner advertising is not a thing of the past and it probably never will be. But, as it goes with all types of advertising mediums, it isn’t for everyone.

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A few years ago, banner advertising was at the forefront of online marketing resources. As banner advertising rose to popularity, more and more business owners began to incorporate the costs of banner advertising into their marketing budget, enticed by the fact that they would be able to quantifiably track which ads their website visitors were [...]

Continue Reading

America’s Most Promising Social Entreprenuers

From Business Week: America’s Most Promising Social Entreprenuers “Social entrepreneurs—enterprising individuals who apply business practices to solving societal problems such as pollution, poor nutrition, and poverty—are now 30,000 strong and growing, according to B Lab, a nonprofit organization that certifies these purpose-driven companies. Together, they represent some $40 billion in revenue. Not surprising, then, that [...]

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Your Next 5 Email Marketing Ideas

When I was in college, my roommate’s homework always seemed more interesting to me, (clue- I should have been a marketing major). I came up with fun ideas for advertising campaigns, product pitches, even helped her write scripts for radio ads.  She couldn’t scribble them down as fast as some of the wacky ideas came [...]

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Are Visitors “Bouncing” from Your Website?

If we are talking about trampolines, basketballs or even Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, being bouncy is a wonderful thing. If we are talking about your website, though, being bouncy is not so wonderful. In fact, it could be downright disastrous. A website’s “Bounce Rate” represents the percentage of visits in which the visitor lands [...]

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Why Hire an SEO Copywriter?

If you want to get new customers to your site, one of the fastest ways to gain momentum is with search engine optimization (SEO). And despite what you may have heard, SEO is much for than just adding some popular keywords to your copy. SEO is a process that involves research, strategy, planning, and regular [...]

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Leveraging Social Media in your Sales Process

Companies of all sizes are looking for ways to leverage the flood of users in online social networking sites for their marketing efforts. So it’s no surprise that in a tough economy sales professionals, especially in a business-to-business sales process, want to leverage the power of their own networks to find as much information as [...]

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My Experience at the 2009 Masters

We interrupt this franchise blog to talk about something I am extremely passionate about … golf. If you are a golf fan and were watching the Masters this weekend, what a treat. Tiger and Phil’s charge on Sunday, Kenny Perry’s near miss as the oldest major champion ever and the eventual winner, Angel Cabrera taking [...]

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Micro is the New Macro

From Business Week: MBAs Go Micro “For years, small companies have had trouble competing with the larger firms that typically hire business school students, but that is starting to change. With the recession making a dent in campus recruiting, career service officers are advising students to broaden their job searches to include small businesses. Students [...]

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Twaikus can hurt your personal brand.

You heard it here: Twitter is the best example of white noise out there. It is, in essence speaking in haiku–and how much information does one get in a haiku? Not much. Twitter was one of many social apps out there until it hit politics. Careful now, and understand the impact of that statement. Politics [...]

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Franchises Offer Start Up Discounts to Veterans

As a way to to honor those men and women who have served in the U.S. military, the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, known as “VetFran,” was developed to help veterans of the armed forces transition to civilian life and go into business for themselves. VetFran is a voluntary effort of International Franchise Association member-companies that [...]

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Win Tax Software (delivered by express mail) for Your Business

Knowing some among you are in a last-minute dash to get those taxes filed, we’ve worked out a special giveaway opportunity for 20 StartupNation users to win a free copy of TurboTax Business software, provided to us by Office Depot.  TurboTax Business is tax preparation software that asks easy questions about your personal and small business income, [...]

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How to Conquer Your Business Startup Fears with Mind Mapping

Let’s face it. The first step is always the hardest. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, start graduate school, or learn how to play guitar. It’s that first step that leaves us feeling awkward, inadequate, and questioning our conviction. Taking that first step toward entrepreneurship is no different. We question our business skills, product performance, and financial competency. The dreaded, “what if I can’t do it?” question creeps into our daily thoughts. We start reasoning that it might be better to “just wait another year.”

These fears are extremely common and unfortunately well founded. Reports show that as much as 50% of all new start-ups fail within the first year. That is not exactly encouraging odds. However, we all have a choice when it comes to creating our destiny. We can use statistics like these to confirm our business’s certain death, or gain confidence from the fact that you could be part of the 50% that become a success. In the famous words of Zig Ziglar, you just have to eliminate your “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”.

One of the tools I use to overcome my fears is mind mapping. It’s a terrific tool that can help you isolate the source of your fears, bring much needed perspective, and help brainstorm solutions to your sticking points. There are several “mind mapping” tools out there and many are free to use. I prefer to use the tool by Wisemapping since it’s free, allows me to add notes and web links, and I can publish or share the completed map.

To demonstrate my fear mind mapping strategy, I’ve created an example below.

Startup Fear Mindmap

First, I outline my top fears associated with starting the business. I then brainstorm how I can overcome those fears. My final step will be answering those questions. My goal is to find a positive solution to each of the questions I’ve asked. For example, for the question, “Can I reduce my startup costs with outsourcing?” I would research potential manufacturing possibilities until I could answer the question with a “yes.” If I can’t find a way, I then brainstorm ways to overcome the obstacle. A “no” isn’t necessarily bad, it just means you need to tweak your business plan to compensate for this reality. Try to be as thorough and honest as possible with your mind map. The goal is to solve your sticking points on paper before you’ve invested your time and money. I use this tool regularly for many of my business decisions including product launches, partnership agreements, and even potential marketing opportunities.

It’s amazing what this simple exercise can do for your confidence level. You are no longer living in fear of the unknown. Instead, you are on a mission with a powerful road map to your business’s success.

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Let’s face it. The first step is always the hardest. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, start graduate school, or learn how to play guitar. It’s that first step that leaves us feeling awkward, inadequate, and questioning our conviction. Taking that first step toward entrepreneurship is no different. We question our business skills, product performance, [...]

Continue Reading

GoToBilling.com’s Mom Entrepreneur Offers Success Tips

On Tuesday, we talked to super Mom entrepreneur, Stacy Roderick. Stacy helped create the one-stop resource for paperless invoicing, marketing and electronic billing atGoToBilling, www.gotobilling.com.Today, Stacy shares more of her work-life balance success tips. What advice do you have for other couples who work together?   Separation of duties and plenty of communication. Try not to step [...]

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The New-New Store Front

Interesting article in this Sunday’s NYTimes about vanishing store fronts. …[Store fronts signs] are artifacts of consumer culture before commercial branding and environmental signage (as signs are now called) became so self-conscious — when sign painters plied their craft without pretense. A store sign had to be bold, eye-catching and immediately recognizable, so that customers [...]

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Innovative Business Idea: Looking for one?

In this economy, people are selling everything. Ebay, Etsy and other such retail hubs are increasingly popular. But let’s step outside the overstuffed box of old sports cards, second hand coach bags, and retro 70s clothing we are trying to get rid of and think of what else we can make money on. In this [...]

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GoToBilling.com’s Mom Entrepreneur Gives Tips

If you are a mother pursuing your small business dreams, check out this interview with Stacy Roderick of www.GoToBilling.com. Stacy manages to take care of her family, cook healthy meals, stay in shape, and help run a successful business all at the same time. Here’s what Stacy had to say: How did you get started [...]

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