Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Start with the Right Website

With the current slow moving economy many business are looking for effective and economical ecommerce solutions. It can be a smart move to look to the internet as a means to expand a business’s customer base. However an online business is exactly that, a business and must be treated as such.

Many companies make the mistake of thinking that if they open a website customers will come flocking in. It does not work that way. As much time, if not more, needs to be invested into building an online business as a brick and mortar business. In some ways a brick and mortar business has some real advantages,such as a physical location that people can find simply by driving by.

This is not the case with a website; people have to be looking for it to find it. It may be less expensive to buy a "create your own website" software. However there is no point in investing time and money into a website that no one can find. Web designers understand how the internet works and how people find websites.

For example there are millions of web designers available online. A New York based web designer will make sure they use the relevant keywords web designers ny so that businesses in New York are more likely to find them.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a business needs to stand out from its competition regardless if it is a brick and mortar location or an online business. Thousands of businesses are using the exact same website creation software. There are only so many variations that can be done, so most of the websites look very much alike. There is no creativity or individuality to make one website stand out from any other.

It is very difficult to brand an online business if it looks the same as half a dozen other sites. A website in a box or a monthly rental website may be cheaper in the short run but more costly in the long run. A website designed to promote and market a specific company is going to be much more effective and provide more value to any business.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Putting a name on your business or company

These days what you name your business is just as important as what your product is, be it a service or something more tangible. The name is how people know what you sell. You don’t want a name that you need to educate people about before they know what you are all about. Don’t waste the marketing money and time trying to sell the name when you can make the name sell you.

People are not interested in cool exotic names or unusual named companies; they want simple names that quickly identify what that company can do for them or sell to them. Does the name tell people what you do or sell? If not what is the point of the name? Are you going to have to spend fortune marketing or branding your name so people know what your company is about? Why put the effort into selling your company name when you could be spending your time marketing your product with the name. What is more important having an unusual name or one that tells people what your company is about?

How well do you know your product and your target market? You need a name that is connected to your product and appeals to your target market. You want to keep it simple and straight forward, easy to understand, say and remember. What good is a name that is hard to remember or say? You want to have people think of your company when they are looking for your services or product. If they don’t remember the name clearly they will move onto one that they do.

Put some real though and time into picking the name for your business or company. The easier it is to market the better.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why make an appointment if you are not going to show up?

The problem with being in a business where people book your time is the no shows. People who book up your time and then don’t show up or call to cancel. You hold a time for them and waste your time waiting for them, losing money because you did not book someone else in. In the business world if you make an appointment you are expected to show up for it or call with an explanation. Why is it that so many people don’t show up and don’t call? It is like because I work out of my home and not an office it is not a business.

So again today I had two people book and not show up, no calls or anything. Now one of two things will happen, I will never hear from them again or they will show up late and expect me to drop everything and everyone to deal with them. It does not matter that I am not available; they will expect me to make myself available because they had an appointment with me. It does not matter to them that they are a ½ an hour or more late.

I just want to be treated with respect. If you are unable to make your appointment, call me and let me know why. If you don’t want to re-book that is fine but at least have the common courtesy to notify me of the change in plans. I run a business. Just because I run the business out of my home does not change the fact that it is a business. My time is valuable, just like any other professional’s time is valuable.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Strategy for marketing companies to manipulate social bookmarking sites like Digg

It is a simple concept actually. Company “A” knows that there is a positive online newspaper article about them and they have also paid several blogers to write positive reviews about them or their product. Now they want people to actually see the articles. They pay a marketing company to get exposure.

The marketing company hires people to submit and vote for their client’s stories on social bookmarking sites, like Digg. People are willing to surf the net for pennies a site, there are people who will submit and vote for articles and blogs for money. It only takes 50 or so votes to make an article popular on Digg, so it is quite possible to manipulate the system to get articles popular. If you have a 100 people not connected in anyway submitting and voting on articles that they don’t have any connection to (i.e. don’t work for the company) then it would be hard to catch the manipulation.

The way it would work is that the marketing company would bulk email a list of clients stories URL’s a couple of times during the day. Each time an “employee” gets a list they start submitting the articles to Digg. If it has already been submitted they Digg it and move on to the next URL. Once a person has Dugg the list they email the marketing company that it has been completed. All the marketing company has to do is look at the persons recent Digg activity and they have proof the person did so. The “employee” could be paid 5 cents per Digg or Vote, 10 cents per story they submit and a $5.00 bonus for every article they submitted that goes popular.

It may not seem to be a lot, but if a person submits and votes for 50 stories in one day they would make at lest $2.50 for just voting. If they submitted 10 of the stores they would make at lest $3.00. Not much but if the 10 stories all became popular they would have made $53.00 just for a little bit of work. There are people who have the time and could use the money, even $2.50 with the possibility of $250.00 if they submitted all 50 stories and they became popular.

As people would be trying to be the first one to submit the story the order of submission and voting should be random again making it harder to catch. Also it you had a 1000 people willing to vote for money and you only gave each list to a 100 of them it would again make it harder to track or catch. This system would also motivate people to make stories popular, as they get a bonus out of it. This would be very cheep marketing. The cost to have a 100 people vote and make popular would be $10.05. So lets say the marketing company charges $25.00 per article, that would still be very cheep marketing for almost any company considering that when a story becomes popular on Digg it can receive 1000’s if not in the 10,000’s or more hits. This would be a winning situation for both company “A”, the marketing company and the people being paid to vote. Not so fare to anyone else though.

Please note that this is just a theory. I do not know of any one doing this, I just think that it is possible and would make people money. I used Digg as an example because it is one of the largest ones out there, but it could be done on any social bookmarking site. Would it be right, no but I think it would be an inexpensive marketing strategy that would appeal to many.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Running an online retail store is harder then it looks

At first when you look at it it seems easy enough. But when you get right down to it there is a lot of work involved. When you get started you have to decide between building a site, renting a site or shopping cart by the month. Both require some time and work to find out what is best for you in the short term and long term. Once you have you decided and things are set up the real work starts.

Unless you have a limited product line there is going to be a lot of work put into getting product into your shopping cart. It is not just a matter of slapping a picture on and the products name and price. No each product is really a mini add and should be treated as such. What information you have in the description and title are what is going to be used by search engines to find your product. Then the description that shows up under your link is what people are going to use to decide to look at your product. The competition starts way before people see your product. You are competing with millions for each view. Please note that was view not buy. Just because you get someone to view your product does not mean they are going to buy from you.

The idea is to market your product online with a description and key words that will attract the people interested in your product. There is no point in using key words or descriptions that will bring lots of people to your site, but only a few of them are people interested in your product. You want to focus on your target market and attract them to your website or online store hoping that once they are there they will buy something. These means you have to think about what you put into the description and title of your products. What key words will your target market be using to find the product? Are they in your description or title? Once it come up in a search will your description stand out from all the others? Will it attract your target market to your site?

So now you put some time into reaching your target market and they click onto your product, what will get them to buy? There are a million and one other web site’s selling the same or similar items, why should they buy from you? What are they going to see first your product or home page? If they are searching for a product your link should open to the product. So how you have your shopping cart set up is going to give people their first impression of your company. How it looks is going to influence people to buy or not buy. Other things that will influence people to buy or not buy are your prices for the product, product image or picture, shipping costs, shipping options, return policies, where you are located, overall appearance of site; feed back from other customers, your home page, about us page and any other information you provide. How much information you provide or don’t provide will help people decide if they want to do business with you and not the other million sites.

At all points of contact with potential customers you need to be marketing your company, store and product. This is from the fist search people use to find you, to how easy it is to use the check out to buy and pay for your product and how the product was shipped. Even how the product was packaged can influence a repeat buy or not. Once you have a customer you need to do everything you can to keep them. Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool out there. Once you have a customer keep them happy and hope they tell everyone about you. But first you have to get that customer, and that is not always easy to do no matter how great your product, prices and company are. It is not just a matter of putting your product out and having it available to buy. You have to put a lot of time and some times money into marketing your product, store and company even after you start making sales. The marketing never ends because there are new online stores showing up and you have to compete with them and any local stores that can and will sell to your customers. In other words the work never ends if you want to keep brining in customers and making sales.

So if you are thinking about opening up an online store because it is easy money, think again. You only get out of it what you put into it. If you plan to put product out and sit back and wait for the sales to come in, save your money and find something else to do. There is no easy money to be found on the Internet anymore, it is a highly competitive market that is becoming more competitive everyday.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Your trade show booth is as important if not more so then your product

If you are a whole seller you already understand how important your trade show displays are. They are what sell your company to the buyers. Having an excellent presentation of your product increase orders, just the same way as having a good commercial will sell a product. Your booth is your ad or commercial and you must use it to sell your product. Retailers are looking for something that will sell in their stores, but you have to get them into your booth before they will buy.

Wholesale and trade shows are nothing but extreme competition these days. It truly is a world market now. At some of the larger shows you can have companies from all over the world all with Trade Show Display Booths designed to capture buyers attention. It is no longer enough that you have great product, prices and reputation you need to have a Trade Show Display Booth that will bring in new customers as well as old customers. Your booth has to sell not only your product line but must also brand your company image.

A booth is no longer a table and walls with product and info packs and cardboard displays, now they are mini stores and show rooms. They have to be very professional looking and give a company image that buyers will be using to judge your company even before they look at your product. It can be more important to invest into your booth then invest in any other type of marketing as this is going to be what the people who buy will see when they are looking to buy. It will have more impact at the time then a flyer or catalogue later on. It is as simple as this, you are not going to make sales to the end customer and create a demand for your product if you cannot get your product into stores and your not going to make the sales to the retailers if you don’t have the right display booth.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You always need updated anti-virus programs on your computer.

These days you cannot have a computer online and not have some type of anti-virus program. If you don’t have a firewall and a million and one safety features your system is going to get hit with something nasty. Even with a top of the line security system your computer can still be hit by something designed specifically to get past the anti-virus program. That is why the best ones update all time.

We got hit with one that was designed to get past Norton, it turns out we were the first to notice. We contacted Norton and they spent 4 hours on our computer, found and copied the virus and then used what they had to send out an update to block it and prevent others from getting hit. Then they told us it was going to take months of work to analyze the coding so they could come up with a way to destroy it. We were very lucky that we have our anti-virus program set up to automaticly run a diagnostic everyday at the same time. We got hit a few minutes before Norton ran its diagnostics. With in those few minutes it hit and damaged a lot of our core data. I am so glad we back up everything. It is scary how much time people put in to nasty programs designed to damage or destroy your data or even computer hard drive, or to steal your information so that they can drain your bank account and wreck havoc in other areas of your life.

Not every one understands that you have to upgrade your security every year and that you need have whatever system you are using to update as often as possible. I know people who thought that they only had to buy the program once and never update it. Yes they lost their computer and had no idea why. Also don’t go with a system just because it is what you know. Computer technology changes fast and what is available to protect your computer has changed as well. Take the time to check out the top 10 anti-virus programs before you buy any anti-virus program.

We just made a change to Bitdefender from Norton and are very happy. However both of these can be found as #1 on any number of top ten anti-virus lists. You need to take the time to figure out what anti-virus program will be best for your budget.