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Archive for “Plan Your Business”

8 Tips for Fast and Free Publicity

After optimizing your site for the search engines and pursuing other marketing-efforts, it’s time to use the “power of the press” to boost sales, awareness and credibility cost-effectively.   But how do you pitch your story to a reporter?   Here are eight quick-tips to help you through the media process:   1. Know Your [...]

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80′s Tech Company Stay Successful with PR and Marketing

With all the ups and downs of the economy, I’ve tracked down a technology company that has remained successful since 1983. To find out the success secrets of Apricorn, www.apricorn.com, I spoke to Michelle Fischer, Apricorn’s Marketing Manager. Here’s what Michelle had to say: Tell us about your business. Headquartered in Southern California, Apricorn was [...]

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PR Too Expensive? Think Again.

If you are currently worried about finances, you may want to review your public-relations efforts and look into getting outside help.   Think it’s too expensive?   Well, you could be wasting time and money by continuing your current publicity activities!   By hiring a PR consultant who acts as an extension of your team [...]

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Is Your Website Putting Your Business At Risk?

a. Have a Terms of Use Policy on your website:

All business websites should have a “Terms of Use” page. It is basically a contract that sits on your website under a “Terms of Use” tab and it spells out in detail the terms required if someone is going to use your website. If your site contains copyrighted content, offers advice, or sells products or services, a Terms of Use agreement is a must. What language in your Terms of Use agreement depends on your business.

For example, if you sell clothes, you will need terms of use that governs use of the website and the terms by which your customers purchase items from your website. If you offer professional services of some kind (like a law firm or doctor’s office), your terms of use might include a statement that no attorney/client or doctor/patient relationship is formed by the mere use of your website or by the act of sending you an email.

If you allow people to post comments or content on your site, or you have an interactive forum, you absolutely need terms of use that govern those activities and that spell out what is prohibited, and that reserves your right to exclude people from your site.

No matter what your business is, you need to give some real thought to what needs to be contained in this agreement, and you should use others in your same business as a guide for what needs to be in there. This is a really good time to retain a reputable lawyer who knows how to draft terms of use properly for your type of business.*

b. Have a Privacy Policy on your website

Next, you must also have a clearly posted privacy policy on your website. If you have forms that collect personal data from visitors to your site, such as an opt-in form to collect email addresses or other personal information, you should post an abbreviated and clear privacy policy right below that form. But then you also need a more comprehensive policy published on your site somewhere that is easy to find. The policy should deal with how visitors information is handled, collected, kept safe, the use of cookies, etc…

The reasons for having a privacy policy are twofold. One, it is about building trust with your customers and clients. As we have seen with the privacy faux pas by Facebook, people care passionately about their privacy and don’t take lightly an unauthorized use of their personal information. In order to build trust, which is critical in today’s world of social media/relationship marketing, you must have a clear policy on how you will use the information you gather, and you must adhere strictly to it.

The second reason for having a privacy policy is to protect yourself legally. This is very important, especially if you collect any kind of information from visitors on your website. For example, if you collect personal information for an opt-in box for a newsletter or ezine, or from people who want to use your online forum, or from people who register for an account or membership on your site.

Also, if you send out email communications with your customers or clients, you absolutely must adhere to the federal Can-Spam Act or you could find yourself being prosecuted and fined heavily for being a spammer. This is no small thing and I have had clients almost go out of business because they were embroiled in litigation with the US Attorney’s office for violation of the Can-Spam act. Among other things, you must have clear authorization to contact someone via email, and you must provide a clear and easy way for someone to unsubscribe from your list. Never ever send an email to someone who didn’t voluntarily give you their email address and agree to you using it to contact them. I personally think the best way to handle this for yourself is to use a service that will collect and monitor emails for you, such as Aweber, iContact or Constant Contact. They will receive the “unsubscribe” requests and the database will automatically remove that email from your list and will put it on a “do not contact” list to comply with the Can Spam act. There is a monthly fee to use these services, but this is about easily minimizing a huge risk in the virtual world and I wouldn’t bat an eye and using one of these services.

If you put these two items in place on your website, you will make huge leaps forward in protecting your hard work, your business and your reputation as your business grows in the virtual world.

*As an alternative, I will be offering several versions of a sample terms of use policy in my Business Brilliance University, so go check out my self-help resources there as a way to jump start this process yourself and possibly save yourself thousands in legal bills.

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I love the internet. It is a great leveling force, allowing small businesses to have the same presence at huge corporations. It allows start-ups to reach as wide an audience as multi-national companies. And these days, getting online and having a great looking, user-friendly website is as easy as saying 1-2-3. But before you launch [...]

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Chris D’Agnese of Inkhead Uses SEO Tactics to Grow Business

Does SEO really work? Well, former software developer Chris D’Agnese saw an opportunity to build a promotional products business solely off of online sales, based on the ideas that consumers like to research and compare before purchasing. Using simple SEO tactics, Inkhead’s sales increased 32% from 2008 to 2009. As a member of the Promotional Products Association [...]

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Business Financing and Structure

One of the most important, and yet the least understood part of your business financing is how your business will be structured. You can choose one of six options: Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Company, C Corporation or S Corporation. You will find that each of these differ to the degree of [...]

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Are You Using SEO in Your Press Releases?

A recent, BtoB Online article at http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100331/FREE/100339984, stresses how businesses are using traditional, media channels to increase sales. During tough economic times, it’s important to keep marketing messages in front of target audiences. After all, if you don’t, your competition will. And this can be tough if you are working with a tight budget. But [...]

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Pew Study: Small Business Most Trusted “Institution”

Trust Congress? Sorry, that institution got among the lowest ratings in a Pew Research Center study that was recently released. The Pew Center polled Americans to determine who they trusted least and who they trusted most. Small business owners – you should be proud. America trusts YOU most. More than churches, our President, labor unions, the [...]

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Business Models—Choosing a Business Model

When choosing a business model I always recommend that it be something that you are passionate about. It seems that when passion is lacking, it is harder to get up in the morning and to do the things that you need to do in order to work your business. So, that would be the first [...]

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What’s In Your PR Quote?

Are you paying attention to the quotes you’re using in your press releases or just inserting them “as is” into your PR materials? Quotes are important so here are a few, quick things to keep in mind when writing:  Provide value. How many times do you see a press release where the CEO is “thrilled” [...]

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Business Planning—Market Research and Analysis

One of the biggest mistakes made by someone that wants to go into business is not taking the time to do the market research and analysis. Here’s the most common scenario: 1) a business idea, usually something the entrepreneur is crazy or passionate about occurs. 2) He or she develops a business plan, though the [...]

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Got a Celebrity Photo to Sell? Business Idea Becomes Success

Have you ever taken a photo of someone famous? Maybe you just enjoy viewing celebrity photos? Well, here’s a new business you’ll find interesting. Jordan Osher, CEO of Meet The Famous, http://MeetTheFamous.com, recently introduced “the first and only celebrity photo agency for the everyday person.” Here, people can upload, distribute and sell their candid celebrity [...]

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A Six-Letter Word to Use Often

With the way things are right now in the business world, there are many four-letter words that I’m sure you have no problem saying! But, at the same time, have you thanked your customers, partners, associates, and media contacts lately for helping your business stay afloat?   If not, here are three simple ways to [...]

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Got Word-of-Mouth PR?

Do you think of social media first when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing and PR? Well, before you start Tweeting, posting photos on Facebook and adding videos to YouTube, tell your story to the media. After all, if your business is featured in a major news-story on radio, television, print, or online, you can build [...]

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Leave Your Business and Make More

When I was an employee, I hated it when my boss was in the office. The boss always managed to muck things up and did more damage than good by running around being self-important and annoying. As soon as we could get him out of the office, systems started moving smoothly again. We got more [...]

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