12 Aug 2012

Small Business Websites — Why You Need Them If You Want To Make Money

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As a small business owner you know that you cant afford to not be ahead or at least on par with the competition right? Well if you’re a small businessowner don’t have a small business websites yet, stick around.

So lets take an example, lets say you are a Plumber in the city of Long Beach, CA and someone has a slab leak, that someone is most likely gonna go onto his computer and type in Slab Leak Plumber near Long Beach, CA, right? Well if you don’t have a website then you will not come up and you are invisible to potential clients searching the internet. On the other hand your competition that do have small business websites will come up and you just lost yourself some new business!

Now we both know that you didn’t start up your business to let the competition trample you down now did you!?

You may think that creating a small business website is a complicated, expensive deal? If that is what you think then you are making a big mistake. Today, getting a website up and running is simple, quick and AFFORDABLE!

If it isn’t obvious enough why you need a website for your small business then let me elaborate on a few other good reasons. Besides gaining new business from the internet, people searching for your company online would like to see a nice, professional looking website to make them feel better about purchasing your product or services. When you go to buy a new car would you rather the showroom be old, smelly and not well kept or a nice, new, modern styled and professional showroom? Your website is your image to customers on the internet and you want your small business to have a good image right?

Another great thing about small business websites that people don’t think about is that once you have it up and running you can list the website on your promotional materials such as business cards, flyers and even banners! Most people that see a banner will most likely just go on your website to see the list of products or services that you offer before they actually come in to ask about it. This way you are converting more potential clients into money… If you are driving down then road and see a banner for aplumber and a phone number, are you really going to call to see what he offers? No. But if there is a website that is easy to remember you will most likely go online and see what services that plumber offers.

In conclusion I think it is obvious as to why your company needs a small business website. But even if it isn’t, do your research, look up your competition online and see if it makes sense for you!

12 Aug 2012

What’s Next After Your New Logo Design?

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A professional logo design is the first crucial step for a business that functions as a solid foundation for the company’s image and identity, but where do you go from there? Your logo, an important symbol for your company, now needs to be publicized. Marketing with your new logo is key to getting the ball rolling for your company, which depends on building connections with potential customers.

These are the next 3 steps your company should take after designing a professional logo:

1. File a trademark application to protect your new logo design.

A trademark is anything that characterizes your company, setting it apart from others. The United States Patent and TrademarkOffice (USPTO) and Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) both allow you to file trademark applications online. Although this step isn’t an obligation, it will grant your company legal trademark rights at least for a certain span of time at which point you can usually renew your application.

2. Get your logo design seen to build your brand.

As the face of your company’s identity, your professional logo design unites your company image across all forms of communication and is the basis for your company’s brand. There also needs to be consistency in your company’s colors, theme and message, which are ideally encompassed by your new logo. To disseminate your message and begin building a positive brand, your logo now needs to be placed on different marketing tools.

There are two main areas where you would initially want your logo seen: print communications and online. For printing, the basics would include business cards and stationery (letterhead and envelopes). You may also consider brochures and newsletters, product packaging and apparel. Over the Internet, your logo must display prominently in your emails and digital letterhead, on every page of your website or blog, and on every social media account. Eventually, you may include your logo design in an online newsletter or company videos. You should also upload your logo when you claim your Google Places listing.

Other media outlets where you may use your logo include television, signs, billboards and print ads in newspapers or magazines for example.

3. Create a marketing plan to maintain logo design exposure.

Success in marketing is more than just having your logo printed and published in various places. An organized strategy and schedule will ensure sustainability in exposure, which is key to branding. Consider the following questions for example: What kinds of paidadvertising will you use? Where will brochures and newsletters be distributed? How often will you be blogging? Which social media accounts will you focus on?

A typical marketing plan spans both online (Internet marketing) and offline (local community awareness) components, and includes diverse marketing techniques.Your exact marketing plan will depend on research in your industry to determine where your audience is and what marketing tools work well with your audience.

12 Aug 2012

Four Tips to Compete with Larger Companies

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As a small business owner, you’re probably happy about where you currently are. You’re chugging along like a slow train, targeting mostly your family and friends and the local community, and you’re happy with the small amount of success your brand is getting. You don’t really want to make it big. You just want to relax and enjoy having a small business…

Or maybe not. As a small business owner, you probably dream about making it big. You want to be able to compete with the big brands, to become as well known as they are. Perhaps you want to become a big brand as well…

But you’re disheartened. How can you compete with the big corporations? How can your small business brand compare with these giants? They have unlimited capital, unlimited resources, and unlimited manpower. You’re practically a one-man (or woman) show, with maybe one or two employees. You’re up to the neck in debt since you borrowed money to start your small business.  Do you even have a chance of competing against these big brands?

The fact is, no matter what you do, you simply can’t compete with these big corporations on the same terms. As a small business brand, you aren’t capable of doing that because you just don’t have the means. But don’t lose hope, because there are other ways you can compete with them – it’s all about planning and strategy.

Here are some tips to help go up against the big brands:

1. Offer value

Honestly, you can’t compete with the big guns in terms of price. You’ll just end up burying yourself, since people may think that the products and services you offer are not up to par with the big brands. Instead, always offer value – sure, your products and services may be a bit more expensive, but it’s because you’re offering something unique, worthwhile, and valuable to the consumers.

2. Focus on what you do best

Maybe it’s customer service, maybe it’s storytelling, maybe it’s social media… but as a small business brand, you need to focus on what you do best in order to shine and be noticed. Don’t just copy what other businesses are doing. Focus on what makes you unique and the things you can best offer to people.

Providing excellent customer service is one of the best ways to reach consumers effectively. As a small business brand, you can ensure that someone always checks your email and answers your telephone line in order to address any customer’s concerns.

Storytelling on social media sites is another way you can stand out and be noticed. People love rooting for the underdog, and if you’re going up against a big brand, then you’re definitely one—so tell them the stories that will give them cause to sympathize or cheer. In short, tell them whatever will help them identify with you and wish for your success.

3. Be more personable

As a small business owner, you can really represent your brand in a personal way that big corporations cannot. Show off your personality, put a face behind the name, go the extra mile for your customers. This really makes your small business brand stand out. Remember that people enjoy connecting and engaging with real people, not businesses. They want to know you, and become friends with you. They want to like and trust you.

People don’t just buy from anybody anymore. They’re a lot more vigilant when it comes to evaluating businesses, and they either love a brand or they hate it. When you become personable and likeable as a small business owner, you can really connect with your customers – they will definitely prefer talking to you over a big brand. After all when they contact a big brand, they usually just talk to a random, faceless,  nameless person.

4. Utilize social media wisely

Social media is a great equalizer – it’s really changed the way people connect with brands, which is why both small and big business brands seem to have an equal chance in this regard. Sure, big brands may have the big bucks, but most social media platforms allow you to engage with your fans and followers for free – all you need to do is devote time and effort to your page.

Maintain a blog, create a Facebook and Twitter account, and don’t forget to update them regularly and interact with your audience using these platforms. Social media marketing is an excellent way to promote your small business brand, since a single update can spread like wildfire through these sites if it’s interesting enough.

Concluding Thoughts 

As you consider how to get ahead as a small business, don’t even try to compete with big corporations on their own turf… Without their money and resources, you can never win. Instead, offer value on the products and services that you sell, focus on what you do best, be more personable, and remember to use social media wisely. These are the simple ways small business brands can compete with the big guns.
12 Aug 2012

Why HTML5 vs Flash Is Nonsense

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Came across an interesting article today about the HTML5 vs Flash debate:

HTML5 is a hot topic, which is a good thing. The problem is that 99% of what’s been written has been about HTML5 replacing Flash. Why is that a problem? Because not only is it irrelevant, but also it prevents you from seeing the big picture about interoperability.

But first things first. A few facts:

  • You do not build a web site in Flash. The only way to build a website is to use HTML pages, and then to embed Flash elements in them.
  • Flash as been around for more than 12 years. It is a de facto standard for the publishing industry. (No Flash = no advanced features in banners).
  • HTML5 does not officially exist (yet). Rather, it’s a specification in working draft, scheduled for publication in 2014.
  • Less than half of installed browsers are HTML5 compliant, with different levels of compliance.
  • The video element in HTML5 is perfect for basic video players, but Flash and Silverlight are much more suitable for advanced video feature (streaming, caption, interactive features and miscellaneous video effects).

These are not interpretations or opinions. These are facts. The truth is writing about the agony of Flash is an easy way to draw readers, a much easier way than to adopt a nuanced stance. And this is why we read so many garbage about HTML5 vs. Flash.

Read the rest of the article over at Forbes.com

12 Aug 2012

It’s Not Ok To Flash

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Flash intros to be precise. This used to be a common practice amongst many websites back in the day; having a super cool flash based main web page. In point of fact, today it is a big no-no unless your brand is world famous already. Search engines are not Flash friendly and can’t crawl Flash based sites, which makes it difficult for the website to rank. Companies like Pepsi or Apple can afford to have a Flash intro to their website because they are world famous organizations with hundreds of millions of followers. But a local start up using Flash as part of its web design will essentially set itself up for failure from the start. Even if you do wish to place a Flash intro, make sure that the main links of your web site are visible on the page so visitors can skip the intro and easily navigate to inner pages.