» START AND GROW The top source for startup resources, business resources and startup business ideas for young entrepreneurs Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:58:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 4 Great Places To Get Content For Your Blog Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:50:51 +0000 Your blog is the lynch pin of your marketing strategy, but constant updates may be more difficult than you thought when you started. While guest posts from other bloggers may help to fill in the gaps on those days when you have nothing to post, they may be a tall order on short notice.

However, there are for websites on the internet that have a large staff of writers ready and willing to generate a post for your blog within a few hours for a price you can afford. Check out these four great places to get content for your blog.

1. Blogmutt

Blogmutt specializes in blog entries and is perhaps the best place to go if you want articles in bulk. You have the freedom to select the topic as well as set a series of sliders to determine what you are looking for in your blog entries (newsy vs evergreen, topical vs promotional etc). You pay a flat monthly rate for set number of blog entries.

Writers are paid a flat rate and submit work to you based on the set of topics and guidelines that you post to your dashboard. You may receive a hundred submissions but you can only buy as many as your plan allows for (from 1-5 posts a week) and the remainder go into a queue that you can pull from in subsequent weeks.

You are free to request revisions, reject inappropriate work, or move posts up/down the queue as you see fit. Blogmutt is a great place to build an inventory of potential blog posts to fill in the gaps in your posting schedule.

2. Interact Media

Interact Media is a website that employs a number of writers on its Zerys platform. Unlike Blogmutt it doesn’t offer a casting call system but rather a job board where freelancers can accept your assignment. This is a more efficient way to get time-sensitive content, as one particular writer will be working on your assignment based upon your deadline.

Their smartpost system lets you customize how much you offer for the article on a cent per-word basis, and this will slowly increase up to the maximum price per work you are willing to pay. Most assignments are accepted well before they achieve the maximum price per word.

All writers on the platform have a star rating that is determined by the work that they have submitted to clients, and you are able to select favorite writers and request direct assignments from them if you think that they perform quality work.

3. Copify is a site that offers more flexibility and transparency than the other services. One of the biggest selling points is that you will know who is doing the work for you and be able to review their online reputation through their profile.

Many services keep their writers anonymous but Copify has an open copywriter directory so that you can see not only the ratings of the writer who will be working on your assignment but also the comments of those who they have worked for in the past.

You are free to order content one post at a time or place a bulk order as is appropriate to your situation, and these will go out to the Copify writing pool for the price you determine. The rate is based upon two tiers of writers: standard writers and professional writers and you will need to compose a brief detailing what you require for your blog post.

4. Textbroker

Textbroker is another option that is very similar to Interact Media, but there are distinct differences. It has a large stable of writers and may be the best place to form a team of writers that you want to work with regularly. You can submit open orders to the job board and determine if you want to have the job open to star ratings of 1-5 star writers, but the higher the star rating you ask for the more difficult it will be to fulfill the assignment.

Unlike Interact Media or Copify writer quality is not determined by client satisfaction with their work. The star rating is determined by a team of editors that review the work long after the fact, and while there is a large number of 2-3 star writers 4-5 star writers are in much shorter supply. This is why it is a good idea to form writer teams of 4-5 star writers and submit your requests as team orders or direct orders.

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The Smartest Product Launch Strategy You Should Be Using Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:28:58 +0000 Your startup launch is the first day you will show your “indoor project” to the  world. A good launch can do great things to your brand & build enough momentum to cut marketing & sales expenditure drastically. The best launch strategy is to build a product people actually want (half the job is done when you are solving a real problem).

6 Months before Launch

1. Get started on Twitter – know the influencers in your area and connect with them. Post content related to your field and build reputation.

2. Get active on forums, Quora on topics related to your product. Answer questions and be a good samaritan.

3. Set up your blog and post interesting content related to your product. Post the broad issues faced etc. Include media to display the human side of your company – photos of your team, office, videos of fun events, etc. Learn the tips for business blogging.

4. Get a good brand name (after some kind of brainstorming) and register your site.

5. Create a splash page – you could use Launchrock – with a signup form.

6. From your small network created in the previous steps, get a few target users to sign up for the alpha/beta.

Goal now: Work on the right product idea that excites your beta customers

3 Months Before Launch

1. Spend some time to design a smart business card that stands out and use the back of the card with a 3 point pitch about your startup.

2. Cultivate relationship with bloggers and media persons in your field. Here are some tips to cultivating the blogger relationships. If you could get bloggers like Robert Scoble and other influencers to get interested, the idea could spread like wildfire.

3. Start attending started related events – keep building networks & exchange business cards. Make your brand – YOU- known.

4. List your startup in Angel List,, CrunchBase, Listio  etc.

Goal now: Build a kick-ass product that people will love

1 Week Before the Launch

1. Build a great landing page that has a clear call to action – signup/phone number to contact/buy the product etc.

2. Optimize your site well as new customers might not be too patient for the site to load.

3. Do basic SEO for your site to bring customers through search.

4. Test your product well – a lot of times people don’t give a second chance. After internal testing you could use services like 99tests to find out critical bugs and scalability issues.

5. Setup Google Analytics in your site and monitor your site daily. Track visits, bounce rate, traffic sources, time spent on site etc.

6. Learn to use social monitoring tools to track your brand across the social media.

7. Write a good press release. A press release is a content that a media could use directly for their story. It is written in third person and talks about your product, team and advantages of your product. Learn to how to write press release and here are tips to write your press release.

8. Setup your Facebook page. Get your friends and contacts to join it. You might want to use Facebook ads to kickstart the fan building process.

8. Create viral content – emotive stories, videos and pictures that people could share in social media easily.

9. Create interesting infographics and slides on content related to your product (stats, benefits, user demographics, comparison to existing products) to post in your blog. You might be able to use the newly launched to create the infographics if you don’t have a create artist.

10. Tease your twitter followers with tweets that gives them a preview of the product in a fun & entertaining way. Without going overboard, give a bikini –reveal enough to keep it interesting without exposing everything.

11. Create fun contests (quizzes, social games, etc) for your twitter & Facebook fans – throw away a few freebies

12. Write personally to bloggers – give exclusives for the big ones- give them a compelling story. Bloggers like to write interesting content and make your story a coherent and a powerful one. Request them not to leak the story till your launch day.

13. Collect a list of all email contacts you and your team knows. Keep these in your CRM or at the least in a single CSV file.

14. Prepare a video demo of your product and record interviews with the team and your initial customers – post them on your youtube channel. Keep it short and fun.

15. Create a kick-ass presentation of your product covering the problem, your solution, benefits etc – post them on your blog and send it over to any blogger who shows interest in your product.

Goal now: Choose the right launch date – ideally in the middle of the week without any impending holidays and other major product launches.

Launch Day

1. Post the howtos, presentation, videos, any testimonial you received from your beta users in your blog. Make your blog the central repository of everything related to your product.

2. Schedule two dozen tweets (you could use tools like Hootsuite for scheduling) to go every hour – each covering a facet of your product – with an appropriate URL in your site

3. Start mailing to all your email contacts. Use a tool like Mailchimp or Aweber to send and track the emails.

4. If you are an internet startup, post your site link on startup directories.

5. Get your team tuned to the social media and be alert to receive feedback. Monitor your site metrics – traffic, load etc.

6. Respond to email queries as fast as possible.

Goal now: Keep listening & responding to feedback, tracking the results, and be agile in enacting changes

Post Launch

1. Thank any blogger who has covered your event.

2. Be active on social media and engage customers who mention your product and collect their feedback. Take their negative feedback without being defensive.

3. Fix the bugs and work on feature requests if they make sense

4. Write tutorials to help your customer use your features better.

5. Keep looking out for events to demo your product.

6. Put your domain name in your business cards, email signature, presentations and any other relevant communication.

Originally shared on Quora

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6 Important Tips for Hiring Your Next Online Freelancer Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:49:39 +0000 The freelance economy has grown considerably in the last half decade or less and according to some studies in the USA; freelancers are estimated will be half of the workforce by 2020.

Needless to say, it’s understandable why this is the case; the freelance economy is a fantastic alternative for businesses hoping to leverage their contingent workforce. Statistics from the Staffing Industry Association saw online staffing increase by 60% in 2012 – a remarkable increase.

The reason a lot of businesses are still wary of the getting involved in the freelance economy is based on it being something of an unknown to them. Luckily for businesses, there are a number of websites out there, including PeopleperHour that do a great job showcasing the freelancer’s job history, portfolio, previous work and a whole lot more.

However, with hiring freelancers becoming incredibly common and a range of great transparent options that showcase freelancer’s talents clearly online very prominent, it can be considered a safe bet. So, to ease you toward considering hiring online freelancers, here are some tips and advice on how to do so.

1. The Description

For businesses hoping to hire a quality freelancer, the job description is everything. You want the people applying for your position or job to be completely clear with what’s involved before sending a proposal.

If you create clarity from the off, you’ll be far more inclined to see clear responses and proposals in return. So, create a detailed, clear description of what you need and when you need it by, making sure that you point out any specific needs or focuses.

2. Portfolio of Work

Talking the talk is good and well, but walking the walk is incredibly important. You need to know that the proposal sent matches up the delivery and the best way to do this is to take a look at a portfolio of work.

That said if you feel the need to ask a freelancer something, then just go right ahead and do so. Always ask anything you need clarified or aren’t sure of, check for previous work and take heed of their reviews – all of these are great for evaluating the quality of the freelancer.

3. Communication

A good freelance relationship is based on good communication and setting the ground rules for keeping contact is very important.

Ideally, set up a means of communication, time of contact and when and how regular contact should be. If you deal with freelancers from a different country then it’s often best to use messaging systems for communication as time differences may not make such a method simple.

4. Price isn’t everything

Remember that you often pay for what you get, so use some discretion regards pricing when deciding on someone to work for you. Even though there are plenty of great low cost contractors out there, it’s often a good idea to examine other factors besides price before choosing.

Remember that freelance marketplaces tend to push prices down to a degree, so you’ll probably get good value anyhow. Also, remember that the value of some jobs may be less or more depending on geographic location.

5. Manage Expectations

If a project tends to miss out on milestones again and again it can be a big problem. Sorting out expectations beforehand can prevent this being a problem. So, provide clear details as regards these expectations and be organised and provide a clear framework for the job. This will greatly ensure your project works on time and to schedule.

6. Payment Terms

Payment terms can work in conjunction with the milestones and paying as certain goals are reached can be a reasonable way to work with freelancers. Most freelancing websites will keep money in Escrow until it’s required and offer a safe and secure way for the freelancer and the buyer to work together.

These tips will ensure you and your freelancer has a smooth, fruitful and hopefully long relationship together.

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What You Need To Launch A Transport Business Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:54:24 +0000 A transportation business like any other business requires the right skill to successfully pull it off. People will always need a means of transport to travel from place to place and if you can do a good job at delivering a good service, you can earn people’s trust and win their business whenever they need a means of transport.

Deciding on the type of transport business is the most important decision you should be looking into for a successful launch. Here are some tips on how to get started. Your options include a limousine or taxi service, health transport services, courier service, auto transport business and charter/bus company.

Every transport business has its own challenges and benefits but once you are clear about what exactly you want, you can dive in on the necessary logistics and permits you need to start your transport service without problems.

Once you know what you want or the kind of service you want to run, its crucial to get int touch with your local transport authorities about getting a permit and license and registering the business.

Obviously, the vehicles you will need to start your transport business is a basic requirement hence the need to do everything in your power to make sure that you get the right fleet of cars at the right price from the right auto dealers.

Get the right people with industry knowledge on board. The basic assumption is that you personally have some kind of skills on the transportation industry. But you also need help from experienced personnel. Some of the areas you need to understand include the Traffic Act, operating cost estimates, licence fees, toll fees, maintenance and the escalation of fuel and other costs.


And there are vehicle schedules, staff duty rosters, maintenance programmes to worry about. Your staff also require the right skills to handle your vehicles. You can recommend particular driving courses depending on your transport sector. Check out suitable courses for some of your drivers here:

Get hold of your initial costs. Understand your costs before and during operation as a business. Don’t take short cuts and remember quality controls and stringent maintenance to vehicles is crucial at all times. Don’t skip quality control measures, they are the lifeline of any transport business.

Your are better off with a few clients before you transportation business hits the road. Seek out customers and contracts before you start the business because transport contracts could take time to seal.

Generally these are some of the expenses you should consider and plan for before you even think about going into the business. Garage or other facilities for vehicles stored at business premises, security features – e.g. tracking equipment, routine servicing and maintenance of vehicles, repairs for scratches, wear and tear (tyres) or accident damage, fuel costs, cleaning and accounting/invoicing costs a few things you should be thinking about.

Once you sure about all the operational costs and are convinced about starting your business, get to work on getting the word out. Try advertising in the local newspaper, or listing in the classified section of community newspapers, join transport associations or the local chambers of commerce and be sure to apply your business name, logo and contact details on  your vehicles. Make contact with manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers (for future contracts).

Some of the biggest challenges facing the transport businesses are not just congested roads/highways, traffic fatalities and injuries but financial problems right from the beginning. Don’t over in-debt yourself. Transport services are capital intensive, you need to have funds upfront to get it started. Wherever you are getting your funds from, make sure you are striking a good deal to prevent future costs and interests that could cripple your business.

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What You Need To Know About Investing In Your Own Business Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:16:26 +0000 When it comes to investing in one’s business, sacrifice are made in terms of time and money. Before and during the investment process some research needs to be considered bearing in mind the trends of the industry. You want to take into consideration your target demographics that you sell your product or service to. Then you want to invest in your company and innovate your product or service based upon the changes on the demographic groups that purchase the goods of your company.

Founders of some of the most successful businesses invested back into their businesses to make sure their businesses thrive in the midst of challenges. Bill Gates of Microsoft and Frank Vandersloot CEO of Melaleuca repeatedly invested in their companies to ensure their continual growth and prosperity. And when it comes to technology, there is usually a period of training that needs to be accounted for.

For those looking to invest in their companies, the areas that should be considered are: Technology, Research and Development and Cross Training

–Know when to embrace new technology

Finding new and innovative technology is important. It can help companies innovate and improve their products or services, but some companies over-invest in new technologies and lose site of their original mission and vision. Know when to use new media to improve and promote your business. Measure their impact on your business and stick to what works for various departments.

Staying current with new technology is important, but not all products and services will benefit every business equally. For example, the average landscaping business does not need a very sophisticated computer and printer, and can get away with using Excel over QuickBooks. However, a pharmaceutical company needs much more sophisticated equipment, especially for internal use.

In other words, if you are a business owner, only go after the innovative technology that you actually need to improve your business. If there are technologies that are overly expensive and your business can get by with out it, then it is most likely the wise thing not to invest in it.

–Allocating R&D Funds

Whether a company is on the top of its game or floundering toward the bottom, there is an equal need to be innovating, even if it’s only 1% of the budget. An example of this can be found in the cautionary tale of The Fish That Swallowed the Whale, by Richard Cohen, about the banana business. Until the 1960′s the world’s most popular banana was The Big Mike, a large and hardy fruit with a thick skin. People loved The Big Mike, but it was susceptible to disease.

The United Fruit Company, then the biggest fruit company in the world, hired scientists to combat this. Meanwhile, Dole began growing other varieties of bananas that were not as big or tough, but also not susceptible to disease.

United Fruit ended up following in Dole’s footsteps, but found that the new bananas bruised easily. Dole solved this problem by inventing the banana box, and it wasn’t long before Dole became #1, and United Fruit fell far to the bottom of the corporate chain.

The lesson to be learned here is that companies need to be constantly researching their own products and how they can become more innovative. It often costs money and time to do this kind of research, but the business world is very competitive and this is really the only way that companies can keep up. So whether you are selling a product or a service, it is a good practice to be innovative and try new things to get ahead of your competition.

–Cross training can prevent major disruptions

One of the major lessons that can be taken from United Fruit was that Sam Zemurray, who saved the company in the 1930′s, never mentored anyone to run it as well as he did.

Cross-training is incredibly important, be it for the position of CEO, customer service, purchasing, or shipping. If a person leaves and no one can fill his spot easily, there can be major disruptions. It is always easier to hire employees to a new or higher position because they have been cross-trained than it is to hire a completely new employee who has little to no experience in that particular position.

By investing the proper amount of time and money, businesses can thrive. Investing in your own company will help keep you competitive with other companies that may sell similar products and services. As investments are forgone, the company will slowly sink, appearing buoyant at first, but eventually succumbing to the inevitable.

Author: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she  studied communications. Lizzie enjoy the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3 years ­old husky Snowball.

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Why Your Business Should Consider Video Marketing Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:23:10 +0000 Many businesses are having their own corporate videos created by production companies because it is the best way for you to communicate a message to your target audience. These videos can be very engaging and entertaining, and they can also be used for a wide variety of purposes as well.

The best way to engage somebody and to communicate a message is through a video, as this uses both audio and video to create a narrative. This will automatically grab somebody’s attention, making it a very powerful tool for businesses to use if they feel they should and, take it from us, they should.

Corporations can have their own business video produced, and these can be used to advertise, promote and raise awareness about your brands, products and services, events and plenty more. Other media forms like print advertising, radio and other are still valuable, but it is through video that you will be able to communicate effectively and attract new customers and clients to your business.

Businesses in all different industries can benefit from having their own videos produced, and these videos can be hosted, shared and uploaded across a variety of channels so that as many people as possible see them and take on their message. You will be surprised at just how effective this can be, and it could make a huge difference to your company and help you to be more successful.

As well as this, having a corporate video produced will also help to boost your reputation. This is because people will see that you understand how to communicate effectively and use modern techniques to get messages across to your target audience.

The quality of the video will need to be of the highest standard because people are very perceptive to how well a film is put together these days with so many films, shows and adverts being consumed on a daily basis. Knowing how to create a video which is effective, engaging, interesting and professional-looking is something that most people don’t know how to do.

This means that you will need to turn to a company that offers video production services, and ideally one that has experience in creating corporate videos. This way you know that they are capable of communicating your message to your target audience through video.

They will then use their expertise to create a sleek, stylish video which is engaging and entertaining. You can then use this video how you wish, and by getting as many people to see it as possible it will soon have a positive impact and you will have an improved reputation. People will be instantly drawn to your video and take everything on board because it is well-produced – this is the best way in which you can communicate to potential and existing customers and clients.

The content on the video will depend on what you are trying to get across, but these videos are used for a huge range of purposes and also by businesses in almost every industry as well. This means that you can certainly benefit from having your own one created, but you will need to ensure that it is created by an established, talented and experienced video production company.

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How to Grow Your Goods Business Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:05:52 +0000 Once you’ve got your start-up business on its own two feet, you’ll want to start thinking about how you can grow it. There are many ways to grow and develop a business depending on what kind of industry your company is in involved in as well as the time and resources you have at your disposal.

Rather than commerce, a business involved in goods is a little more concrete to handle. In order to satisfy your partners and increase trade, here are a few tips that you can bear in mind when looking to grow your business.

Increasing Your Sales

Look into ways that you can increase the sales of your goods. This could be done in several ways. You could increase orders from existing customers by finding out what they might need.

Try to investigate how you can expand the sales of your goods to new customers too by researching new markets and potential areas that your goods could serve. This links to diversifying your product range and perhaps bringing in new goods that would sell better.

Secure Storage

When dealing with goods, it is most important to have a safe and secure storage facility, no matter what size of start-up you have. Find an appropriate space or warehouse facility if needed and invest in clever storage solutions.

If your goods can be stored over a long period of time then you won’t need something so quickly accessible whereas if your goods need to be replenished daily, you will need more flexible options. Ensure all the stock is recorded and monitored for security purposes.

Global Transit

Don’t be afraid to expand your business to other countries. With the rapidly increasing potential of the internet, it’s never been easier to establish global trade and connections. Apart from going through websites such as Amazon or Ebay, you should be sure to get a good deal on tax and shipping as this can be the greatest cost.

Create a trusted connection with a foreign distributor who can carry an inventory of your product and manage the sales in their country. Trade groups and foreign chambers of commerce are good places to find the right distributor that you can work with.

Business is all about research, predictions and not being afraid to take calculated risks. As long as you continue to monitor, learn from mistakes and care for your business, with time and persistent effort your business can reach its potential that might be beyond what you ever imagined.

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Dear Aspiring Entrepreneur, Here Are A Bunch of Free Lessons Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:43:52 +0000 From the outside, it seems great to be an entrepreneur. You work for yourself. You have all this free time. You have the ability to make boatloads of money that you don’t have to share with others. You don’t have any financial overhead. And you’re the envy all of your friends. Well I’m sorry to burst your bubble, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

Aspiring entrepreneur, here are a bunch of free lessons:

Being an entrepreneur is the single most stressful thing I’ve ever done in my life. Yeah, I’m only 31 years old, but the last five years have probably taken ten years off my life.

I’ve lost and alienated a bunch of friends. Some of my friends have become “enemies.” Albeit, we don’t have medieval sword battles or anything.

I’ve gone into debt, I’ve come out of debt, I’ve gone back into debt.

I’ve missed weddings and countless birthdays. The worst part is, for a few of those events I’ve missed them traveling or doing things that weren’t the most fun or amazing, but were necessary for my business.

If you’re getting into the client services business, expect customer service to be your number one priority. I don’t kiss people’s asses, but I do go out of my way to keep clients happy.

Customer service sucks and you will have to do it.

Hire a damn accountant and pay that person to make sure you file your taxes on time and correctly.

Hire a damn lawyer to set up your business correctly, get contracts written up front for employees/contractors/clients. DEFINITELY get contracts written and agreed upon up front when doing business with friends.

You get what you pay for in almost everything you do in this world. Remember that the next time you want to take the cheaper route.

Just because you have some success, doesn’t mean it will last. Think about the long tail. I didn’t when I first got started and wish I would have.

The likelihood of you creating the “next big thing” is about as likely as you winning the lottery. Maybe even less likely. So focus on doing something you want to do and play the lottery every once in awhile (just in case).


Being an entrepreneur is one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done in my life. And I guess it’s less “being an entrepreneur” and more “owning my own business.” Nonetheless, the harder I work, the more results I see.

I think we all have friendships that weigh us down because we’re afraid to move on and focus on bigger things in our lives.

Going into debt has taught me so much about myself. Not only has it taught me to be way more frugal with my money, it’s also realigned my life priorities and goals.

Traveling is one of the biggest bonuses for me. Having the flexibility to go anywhere in the world at anytime is fantastic. You may miss out on a few things, but you also have the chance to create new memories and relationships.

Yes the client service business can suck, but if you have the right clients it can be great. Fire your bad clients and go out of your way for your good clients.

Customer service is great when you make a customer happy and they sing your praises. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing.

Accountants are worth whatever they charge, and for most new business owners (entrepreneurs), it’s not as expensive as you think. In 2010 I think I paid $1,000 to my accountant and he helped save me thousands of dollars.

Lawyers are worth whatever they charge, if you need them. Legal advice isn’t a fun thing to need, but it’s great to have someone in your corner just in case.

I don’t advise entrepreneurs to spend much money when getting started, but things you shouldn’t skimp on: Great design. Great development. Great people. Everything else you should be stingy about.

Success is measured in different ways for different people. I always equated success with money and now I don’t. Yes I want to make lots of money, but I also want to be happy and love what I’m doing. The latter feels more like success to me.

Mark Cuban said it best: “Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”

Now’s the time to get started. Don’t wait. Don’t look for that perfect moment to land in your lap. Go out and make something happen for yourself. Oh, and try to learn from my (and other’s) mistakes!

****This letter was written by Jason Sadler and was first published on Jason’s blog.

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Back-to-Back Marketing Strategies to Hook and Keep New Clients Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:08:47 +0000 When putting up a business, it’s important to set goals for a number of good reasons.

One, reaching your goals is tantamount to realizing the financial purpose of your business. Two, achieved goals remind you where you started in the market and determine where you currently stand. Lastly, your goals will keep you motivated to push through with your business.

However, it is also equally important to determine how you will reach these goals. An effective way to kick your business off is to devise a marketing strategy. You can stick to one method or you can employ a lot of them as long as you customize it to the needs of your business.

Marketing Strategy Defined

Before you start learning the techniques, you have to make sure that you know what a marketing strategy really means.

A marketing strategy is essential because it serves as the groundwork of how you plan to achieve your business goals within a certain period of time.

Your marketing strategy should contain your objectives, plans of action, and your budget. While it is all right to experiment with different methods, it is important that you back them up with research and data.

Ideally, you should figure out your marketing strategies at the early phases of your business planning. While you do not necessarily have to write it down, having your marketing strategy clearly laid out will help you communicate it to others, such as your employees, your bank, and your business partners.

What to Do Next

If you’re not sure what else to do to make an impact on your market, or if you’re looking for more ways to sustain a good reputation, here are a number of effective tactics you can incorporate in your marketing strategy.

Communicate with your customers.

As an entrepreneur, among the many pieces of advice you will be getting a lot is to determine who your audience is.

Assuming that you already know who you are selling your products to, the next step is to make sure you maintain a harmonious relationship with them by communicating consistently. Whether you decide to do it through snail mail, phone calls, or emails, make sure that you keep in touch with your customers.

Care for your customers

People appreciate it when you remember the intimate details of their lives, such as birth dates, anniversaries, and other important events. You can earn more good will and possibly more customers when you pay attention to what your existing patrons think is special.

Send them a card or write them a personalized email to remind them that you too are celebrating their cherished events.

Make media tell your story

One guaranteed way of putting the spotlight on your product and attracting potential customers is by employing the powers of people from public relations.

You can choose from television, radio, print and online ads. But if you prefer to launch a full-blown campaign, by all means, use all of these options. Just make sure that you take into account what your audience would like to see and that your brand’s message is established in them.

Are you making the most of the internet and social media?

The up and coming trend of online shopping is enough of a reason to create an awesome website for your business, and to engage in social media. In fact, many people nowadays check the Internet first for product reviews before actually making purchases.

Therefore, establish for your business an active online presence by consistently posting quality content on your website, as well as participating in discussions within your social networking accounts.

Express your gratitude

One of the ways you’ll know your marketing strategies are working is when your customers begin recommending you to their friends. Since this can greatly improve your business’ reputation, you owe it to your customers to show how grateful you are.

You can show them appreciation by giving a rebate on their next purchase or a gift card perhaps. By doing this, you can be sure that they will continue to patronize and endorse you to their networks.

The next time you sit down with your subordinates for the next strategy brainstorming session, integrate these five methods and you’re sure to achieve the impression you’ve been aiming for. If you want to share your own tried-and-tested tips, take the liberty of writing your comment below.

Author: Lionel Luigi Lopez is a business writer, entrepreneur and a musician. He is also an active blogger and marketing strategist. He runs a small business in Manila and is still active in music.

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21 Signs You Are Killing Your Creativity Sun, 06 Apr 2014 15:41:36 +0000 You are supposed to explore and make yourself better, smarter and stay remarkable. Some people are killing their creative instincts without knowing it. Your daily actions either enhance your ability to make a positive impact in your immediate environment or kill your creative habits. People’s lives would be more fulfilling if they were given greater freedom in the workplace. You can make a significant impact in the world in your own small way if you expand your horizon and start asking: why?

“If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.”― Napoleon Hill

Want to make sure you never come up with a great idea? Here are 21 suggestions to help you kill your creativity.

1. Confine oneself to a restricting environment filled with mundane, repetitive tasks without hope of any improvement.

2. Surround oneself with people who rigorously worship convention and authority figures.

3. Train yourself  to think within the confines of rules and only within a defined box.

4. Stop asking “Why?” and accept the world as it is.

5. Exclude everything that is dissimilar, unrelated or is in some other domain from your subject.

6. Start thinking what your relatives will think of you if you choose your passion over what society think is a great career.

7. Let your own hidden fears and uncertainties consume you as you prepare to let go of your dreams and choose a safe certain life.

8. Going through an education system while believing everything they tell you without digging the facts yourself.

9. Whenever an idea is offered, criticize it and judge it. Be skeptical. Look for reasons why it can’t work.

10. Get TV, a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, whatever you need to always be entertained but not getting educated.

11. Plug yourself into a system that is: unforgiving of early failure, predefines (non-negotiable) deliverables, and rewards short-term successes.

12. Teach people that they can only imitate past models.

13. Surround yourself with people who don’t believe in you.

14. You kill your creativity when you start getting used to with your comfort zone, stop taking risks.

15. Getting overly negative feedback from a leader kills creativity.

16. Spend all your time around people who agree with everything you say.

17. Convince yourself that it’s all been done before.

18. Everything in your life should be orderly and predictable

19. Select your friends carefully. They should have similar education, family histories, religion, politics, principles and beliefs.

20. Don’t waste time recording ideas or making notes.

21. Never try anything you haven’t tried before. Only attempt those things where you have the past experience and knowledge (limit yourself to your comfort zone).

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”–Einstein  

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