The StartupNation Blog Trends, tips and real-life anecdotes from industry experts

Archive for “Leverage Business Technology”

Are You Guilty of Having a “We” Site?

Welcome to our site. We are the leader in widgets. Our widgets are the best. We use innovative technology. You should buy our widgets because blah, blah, blah. Yes, this is terrible copy for a Website. But look at all the businesses out there that use this kind of language. And while you may not [...]

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Leadership Guru and eePulse, Inc. Owner Theresa Welbourne, Ph.D. Shares Employee Motivation Tips

Are you having trouble keeping your employees motivated during today’s challenging times? Well, I recently caught up with human resource and leadership guru Theresa Welbourne, Ph.D. As the President and CEO of eePulse, Inc., www.eepulse.com, a Research Professor with the Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California and the Editor-in-Chief [...]

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7 Ways to Juice Your Holiday eCommerce Sales

It’s the holiday shopping season. If you run an eCommerce website, you need to do everything possible to increase and maximize your sales during this busy shopping period. To that end, here are 7 ways to juice your holiday eCommerce sales to drive your revenue and profits to new heights before the New Year. 1. [...]

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The Entrepreneurial Brain At Work

Hi gang, Life is funny.  I mean, it’s just a laugh out loud riot, isn’t it? As an entrepreneur, I share the same DNA as you have.  Recite with me:  1) luck is the residue of persistence 2) make the best of any situation   3) keep both eyes on your goals. I’ve been repeating those [...]

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More Advice on ABC News Now

During my recent appearance on ABC News Now, I was lucky enough to be asked to provide some advice to fellow entrepreneurs who are growing businesses built around their passions. Click here or on the image below to view that advice. Let me know if you have a cool story you’d like to share with ABC News [...]

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Are Reporters Reading Your E-Mails?

It’s 8:30 a.m. and you’ve spent the morning crafting the perfect e-mail to announce your brand new clothing line for dogs.  You click “send” and wait for a response from the business editor at “The Wall Street Journal.” Now, it’s noon and still no response from the editor. You call and get voice mail so [...]

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The Price is Right. Or Is It??

Pricing your products and services is both an art and a science. Get it right, and you can secure yourself a profitable future. Get it wrong, and you’ll find yourself without orders and going out of business. Effective pricing is critical to your business success. It plays a huge role in your company’s viability and [...]

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Ugh! Bad Day-But Still Thankful!

Ok. So it’s 5:00 a.m., and I walk to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee with my eyes half open. Ugh! I forgot to put coffee into the machine last night, and there is just a pot of hot water waiting for me. Oh well. I’ll make a fresh batch and use the [...]

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Why you should pay for this content

Weird that I’d write a blog post about paying for content in a free content world, isn’t it?! Weirder yet that StartupNation has for years on end been a STRICTLY free content site and hosts many tens of thousands of pages of free content and features. So why have we recently launched a paid content [...]

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Secrets to Accelerating Your Business Success

As a business owner, I love being my company’s “evangelist.” I get huge kicks from educating and exciting people about becoming a customer. But frankly, there’s an even more important—though arguably less exhilarating—aspect to closing new business. We call it, the art of follow up.   My feelings about this were confirmed and further fueled [...]

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Are People Reading Your Blog?

Many new clients tell me that they have a blog, but no one is reading it. Other clients ask me if they need a blog. Well, if you have a blog, or are wondering if you need one, you may have these questions: • What’s the point? Before you start writing, figure out why you want [...]

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Is Your Web Site Playing This Song?

With the popularity of performance shows like “Fame,” “Glee,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Dancing with the Stars,” etc., it got me thinking. Ever see some of the performers warm up singing, “Mi, Mi, Mi…?” Well, this could be the theme song on many of the Web sites I review these days! Do You [...]

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Got Goals? Tips from Richard Lewine of GoalTrak

After working over 30 years in organization development consulting, Richard Lewine created a company called Quantum Voyage, http://www.goaltrak.com/, to help businesses and organizations reach their goals. Since many of you are in the process of setting your goals for 2010, I caught up with Rich to get his insights. Here’s what he had to say: [...]

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3 More Free Publicity Tools

Since many of you commented on my last blog entry, here are three more free tools to help you with your small business PR activities: 1. Help a Reporter Out PR Pro Peter Shankman set up this great site at http://www.helpareporter.com/. Simply enter your name and e-mail information. And each day, you’ll receive a list [...]

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What to consider when creating an email marketing campaign?

1. Determine your ROI. One quick way is to estimate the time it takes you to produce the email, include design and content time, and multiply it by how much that time is worth. Add the cost of your email marketing provider (typically based on the size of your list). If you are not receiving as much or more revenue from the email blast, it’s time to rethink your approach.

2. Rethink your approach.

a. Target lists. Like direct mail, lists are about quality, not quantity. If you think of email marketing like you think of inbound marketing, you’ll need to hyper target. Separate your lists into different user segments. Sites like beauty.com will send customers relevant offers based on their last purchase. If someone purchases a skin care product, more offers are sent about skin care products. If you own a retail store, separate your buyers based on what brand they purchase and send targeted emails to those customers. Be careful not to spend too much time on this if you have a small list. It has to produce a strong enough ROI to keep going.

b. Create one design. Customize the design to your brand instead of just using one of the templates provided. Why? It’s worthwhile to show your brand each time a piece of communication is sent out.

c. Use clear language. This should be a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many emails I get with grammar and spelling errors, incomplete sentences, and copy that just doesn’t make sense. If the email is well written and error free, your recipients will think you took the time to care.

d. Personalize the e-mail. You’ll fail in your email communication if your emails are primarily about you or your company instead of about how you can help the recipient. Think “what’s in it for them” if you want them to read after the first paragraph.

e. Create a special offer. Sometimes considered a “call to action,” this is where someone will take an action. Be smart about it and use a tracking code to an ecommerce web design page you specifically created just for that email.

3. Work with your email marketing provider. Most of these providers have a customer support team that offer tricks and tips to improve open rates – use them. Some companies even provide one-on-one phone advice.

4. Consider mobile devices. Yes, it’s true that most people aren’t going to buy something from their mobile device, but they do take notice and put a reminder to purchase later on. That said, make sure the company you outsource has applications allowing recipients to see text and images on their devices. You can help by keeping copy simple and to a minimum amount of characters and sending out a text version instead of HTML.

5. Analyze results. Going back to the tracking code, your e-mail provider should have an easy-to-use system where you can go in and look at each piece of communication sent out and analyze how many people opened, where people clicked, etc. The landing page is an additional page you can create that if set up with analytics can provide more data.

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According to recent research (more than 600 companies) from Clash-Media, e-mail marketing is now the most favored method of online lead generation in the United States. It’s also estimated that more than 80 percent of businesses will spend more money on e-mail marketing by the end of this year. Before you take the time to [...]

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Why Do You Need a Copywriter?

If you are tempted to save money and write your own marketing materials and website copy, please stop and think about it. Although copywriters may be expensive, they can help you: – Optimize conversion rates; – Build credibility; – Reach targeted audiences; – Increase search engine placements; – Assist you with your overall, Web architecture; [...]

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How a Professional Answering Service Raises the Bar

I just cringe when I call a business and get some home recording message from a 1980′s answering machine. All home-based businesses need a professional answering service. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur looking for a professional “staff member” (i.e. virtual phone service) to field calls, or an at-home sales rep missing sales leads because you are on the phone in a client meeting, answering services are cheap and immediately handle your communications when needed. A professional answering service moves you up from the “trying to make a few bucks” category to the “sustainable and trusting business” category. Plus, once your business starts to boom with hundreds of inbound calls for your services and products, you’ll be able to manage, and respond to each one efficiently. And, when your power goes out or when you must run a quick errand, someone, or “something” will be there.

Professional answering services are easy to find and most telephone service companies offer as an added-value feature in addition to your phone service. But what potential problems might happen and what services are available to you?

There are four major types of answering services: automated, live, Internet and call centers. Automated is what we are used to where the caller will need to press a number to obtain further information. If you want to appear “larger” in employee size, you could create separate lines for departments, or even insert fake names. This type of system works well if you just want to provide general information.

A live service is a bit more expensive in where you would contract out an operator and the operator decides whether to talk a message or patch through to you directly. The advantage to this type of service is a real human operator rather than an automated message at any time of the day. If you operate an online site where customers make purchases, a live service can help customers trust your business and feel at ease when placing an order. On the other hand, if you go over the set number of calls in your contract, it could get very, very expensive.

Internet-based services like Google Voice, or RingCentral, work by consolidating phone lines and routing them to the best line or providing voice mail options that go to a Web-based account. Most of these VoIP services that use a Web interface to manage incoming calls have additional features like routing calls, accepting faxes, forwarding text messages to cell phones, and receiving an automated receptionist. And, all you need to set it up is an Internet connection and the phones. With an Internet-based service, you might have sound quality issues if you have a slow or bad Internet connection. Some phone system companies will guarantee a certain number of minutes a month your service will not be interrupted, but most of the time you can’t negotiate this number. The advantage of using VoIP answering service is that you will be able to manage your business from anywhere in the nation.

Call centers are more on the telemarketing services side and helpful if you need a promotional product or sales push, or need an inbound call center to answer multiple phones ringing. AnswerConnect.com for example, offers live message taking, online order taking, paging and live call transfers delivering messages instantly to the customer’s email box for permanent storage. If you plan to outsource your answering services needs to a call center, or use appointment setters to take online orders, etc., you should spend time training, providing copy and monitoring (or listening) to the calls to ensure the company is professional and speaks accurately to your business.

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I just cringe when I call a business and get some home recording message from a 1980′s answering machine. All home-based businesses need a professional answering service. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur looking for a professional “staff member” (i.e. virtual phone service) to field calls, or an at-home sales rep missing sales leads because [...]

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Benefits of a POS System for your Hospitality-based Business

Chances are, you’ve seen a POS system in action. “POS” is an abbreviation for “point-of-sale-” the most basic POS systems calculate payment amounts and process customer payments, similar to a cash register. However, they aren’t just calculators. Most hospitality-based systems use POS systems in order to track inventory and labor costs, forecast business volumes and [...]

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