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3 Ways to Improve Your Copy in Less Than 60 Minutes

Are you an entrepreneur handling every aspect of your new, small business? If so, you are probably writing all of your marketing materials and Website copy. While you may not be able to afford a professional, search engine optimization (SEO) copywriter yet, there are some things you can do to improve your copy… and they [...]

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Are you Pinterest-ed?

Last summer, I was working with a client and she was bubbling over with excitement about Pinterest.  While 6 months ago, Pinterest was relatively unknown to many people, as of last month it is now a TOP 10 social media network.  That’s right – TOP 10. Are you Pinterest-ed yet? Pinterest is basically a visual [...]

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eBay, Amazon, Mobile, e-Commerce, and Stripping.

Hi gang, John Lawson is a nationally known e-commerce and social media expert.  You can find him speaking at conventions all over the world and on colderice.com and if his name sounds familiar it’s because he was a winner of Startupnation’s own Home Based 100 contest a few years ago. I’ve known John for a long [...]

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Are You Moving Too Fast with PR and SEO?

Today, the world of public relations (PR) and search engine optimization (SEO) runs at the speed of light. You need to write, optimize, send, and monitor press releases quickly to keep up with news and the competition. In addition, your site needs to have the right SEO keywords and coding in place to be noticed [...]

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30 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out From the Crowd

Let’s face it, starting a business can be very easy, but staying in business can be very difficult given that our customers have too many choices on where to spend their hard-earned cash.  So the question I posed to small business owners was “How do you make your business stand out from the crowd so [...]

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Start-Up & The Net: A Love Affair

I feel as though I am always writing about social media and the rapid changes of that thing we affectionately call the ‘Internet’ here at StartUpNation.  There must be a reason why I feel as though both you and I should stay up to date with this rapidly changing area.  No, it is not to stay [...]

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4 Reasons to Use Google+ to Market Your Business

Many of the small business owners I work with are suffering from social media fatigue.  The past few years have been a whirlwind of new technology that has left many of us wondering; “is all of this social media really worth while for marketing my business?” The recent introduction of Google+ for business into this [...]

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Where’s the Accountability?

Happy 2012 StartUpNation! As I wrap up Week #1 of this fabulous brand new year, I thought I would check in with all of you…. Have you set your Main Goal(s) for 2012? More important, How do you plan to hold yourself accountable to your Goal(s)? That is the kicker with goals.  You can make [...]

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10 Timesaving Tips for the New Year

Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy extra hours each day on Amazon, eBay or Overstock.com? Not many people would turn down the opportunity to buy more time and have the ability to accomplish more each day. Unfortunately I can’t give you more hours in the day, but I can give you some tips [...]

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5 Tips for Using Email Marketing to Boost Your Business

Every small business owner understands the value of building relationships with customers.  But many of us get lost when it comes to building relationships with potential customers. As a business owner, I’ve learned that success in marketing is all about timing. The optimal time for a business to sell a product or service to a [...]

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Take a Networking Leap of Faith in 2012

Today I was interviewed for a local magazine that happened through someone reaching out to me.  I did not pitch this reporter, but rather he found me and thought that I would provide an interesting twist on his topic. He went out on a leap and emailed me.  This got me thinking back to yesterday [...]

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To Automate this Season or Not?

As always, I never sugar coat my blog posts, so I am not going to start today.  I promised a backstage pass to my adventure, and that is what you get all the time. Not sure if you remember, but last spring – I unplugged! That is right, I unplugged for a week with my [...]

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5 Tips For Writing Your 2012 Marketing Plan

2011 is almost over and planning for the next year can get lost in the business of the of the holiday season. However, the best way to get 2012 off to a great start is to put some thought into your 2012 marketing plan outlining where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

For small business owners, your marketing plan can make all of the difference in your success. As you get ready to leap into the New Year, taking the time to develop a marketing plan will help keep you on track, ensure you are spending your marketing dollars effectively, and give you the focus you need to succeed.

I asked other small businesses for their thoughts  on how to build a successful small business marketing plan for 2012 and received many responses. Small businesses are taking a hard look at what worked and what did not work in 2011 so that they can focus their marketing dollars in the most profitable places. Others are looking for creative and innovative ways to expand their reach without expanding their marketing budget. To help you build the best marketing plan for your business, I pulled together the most consistent themes, sprinkled them with a bit of my own experience, and let the small businesses speak for themselves.

1. Begin at the End

In order to ensure you pick the best tactics and strategies to meet your marketing goals for 2012, you need to be clear about your goals. What do you need marketing to do for you in 2012? Are you looking to expand your market presence, bring in more customers, generate more leads, or break into a new market?

Beth Walsh from Clearpoint Agency, Inc. explained how they develop their marketing plan for the coming year.

We have several methods that we use to plan our marketing tactics, including a news release schedule and blog schedule, both of which are set-up as Excel spreadsheets. However, first, we are having a planning meeting with our staff of five where we will do a workshop on our key messages for the upcoming year. We plan our key messages based on what is true about our company culture and the services we deliver for clients and then we look for ways to differentiate from the competitors. We review competitors, look at their websites, marketing activities and press-pickup, and then we review our own in comparison.

2. Learn from Last Year

Look at your marketing plans for 2011 and compare them to actual results. Where were your marketing dollars most effective? Where were you unsuccessful in achieving the results you expected? What lessons can you learn from last year that will help increase the effectiveness of your marketing spend next year?

Catherine B. Ahles from Premier Aircraft Sales explained how experience dictates their marketing strategy.

Today, most aircraft purchasers do the bulk of their “hunting” online, rather than at their local airports. In 2012, we will be doing even more online advertising as well as creating more landing pages and other web-based tools. Incentives have become more important too. We will be offering things like free fuel for a year with purchase of a new aircraft. Also, we are still figuring out how to use Facebook to aid our customers in keeping up with new developments of interest. Our print advertising will go to bare minimum, and we will cease doing open houses and any trade shows except the very largest.

3. Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work

Understanding what worked and what didn’t is the first step, but in order to use that information effectively, you must also stop doing those things that aren’t working. For some small businesses, this can be difficult, especially when what isn’t working is one of those “marketing things” that every business is supposed to do.

Chris Tobias from School Skills shared this with me.

In 2012, we will no longer pay for advertising that does not directly drive sales. We will only pay for results. This means affiliate programs and partnering with publications to pay them based on the sales an ad produces rather than just paying for ad space. It means no more pay per click or pay for space. After spending a year and a half attempting to optimize click through conversion rates, design high quality marketing communications and locate appropriate advertising vehicles we have discovered that we are not advertising experts. We have also discovered that the risk for advertising success lies entirely with us. If we buy media space in a publication that does not produce results we lose both time and money.

4. Be Specific

It is always easier to hit the bull’s-eye on a target if you can see what the bull’s-eye looks like. Imagine you are shooting an arrow at a target that only has the giant red circle around the outside. It would be pretty hard to hit the center of the bull’s-eye without any other point of reference. Now think of that target as your 2012 marketing plan. If your marketing goal is to expand your social media presence, you only have a giant red circle to aim at. By planning out specific activities and actions as part of your marketing plan, you are effectively adding the other circles to the target that enable you to zero in on the bull’s-eye.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith from Increase Sales Coach talked me through the specific actions she included in her marketing plan for 2012.

Since 2005, I have been engaged in education based marketing with a primary component of article marketing. I plan to continue those efforts through at least 1 new article per week. Currently, I secure two new clients from inbound marketing activities each month and want that to double that in 2012. Continually updating the website is also critical as trends change keywords. Each morning I invest 1.5 hrs into marketing, the goal is to increase marketing activities by 20% as I have a new solution that will be offered in the summer of 2012. Blog posting must remain at an average of 5 per week. As I have expanded into Facebook through business pages, daily postings must be maintained on these pages as well.

5.  Just do It

One of the biggest mistakes that I see businesses make when it comes to marketing is that they don’t take the time to put together a marketing plan at all.  Their marketing plan consists of following the latest fad just because everyone says it’s the “thing” to do, without really taking the time to analyze if it’s the right marketing strategy for their business.  So take some time now at the end of the year to put together your 2012 marketing strategy based on these tips and your experience. You’ll be rewarded with better results.

Are you in the process of writing your marketing plan for 2012? What are your tips?  Share them here along with the link to your website.  We always love hearing from you!

Want to get more inexpensive and practical small business marketing ideas, grab a free ebook called “Build Buzz for Your Biz, 23 Creative and Inexpensive Marketing Strategies That Will Get You Noticed” at http://23kazoos.com.

Wendy Kenney is the bestselling author of How to Build Buzz for Your Business available on Amazon.com, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Newsday.

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2011 is almost over and planning for the next year can get lost in the business of the of the holiday season. However, the best way to get 2012 off to a great start is to put some thought into your 2012 marketing plan outlining where you want to go and how you plan to [...]

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Approach Results with Abundance

Last week, I wrote about Lessening Holiday Stress, so it seems only fitting that this week I discuss the upcoming New Year. The start of the New Year is always filled with bucket lists and LONG lists of resolutions.  If you think about these two lists, they are essentially polar opposites.  One is a list [...]

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5 Ways to Lighten Holiday Season Stress

December is here.  Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all behind us.  My inbox is jammed with sales and specials from Vista Print to Saks Fifth Avenue and everything in between.  The Holidays and the New Year are quickly approaching. Is your blood pressure rising just reading this? The holiday season [...]

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Did You Get a LinkedIn Invite Today?

“Melanie, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Of course you would. But who are you? How many of these invitations do you receive? Well, LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com, is a great, social-media tool for networking, staying in touch with key contacts and more. But if you just send out random invitations, you [...]

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