Your Customer Is Not A Computer

treating customers like people not just a computerSometimes Internet marketers seem to do everything right tactically… but they can’t seem to get the sales they’re after. Whenever I see this, especially with extremely hard-working entrepreneurs, the problem is usually one of those “big picture”   strategic issues that can be easily missed when you’re caught up in the work.

It’s easy to forget you’re working on a car when your head is under the hood and all you see is engine.

In the bricks-and-mortar world, sales are made based on relationships. Customers can easily visit your place of business and see your employees face-to-face. This goes a long way to build the kind of trust and comfort that accelerates the sales process.…

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Top Ways SMBS Can Save on Energy Costs Now

saving on energy costsAs the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day approaches, consumers and businesses everywhere are thinking about ways to reduce energy consumption and lower their energy bills. Affordable alternative energy sources are years away and utility-driven conservation measures like the Smart Grid won’t help SMBs in the short term, if at all.

While we await advances in energy creation and conservation, consumers and businesses are faced with skyrocketing energy costs. Businesses are particularly hard hit as they are forced to pay higher rates due to their higher peak energy usage.

SMBs looking to reduce energy use and costs quickly and affordably would be wise to look at the following biggest energy wasters and tips for controlling energy use and costs for each:…

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How Promotional Items Can Build Your Brand and Your Business

promotional marketing productsIn this age of social media marketing, it’s easy to forget that one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways   to get your small business in front of people is to give them a gift. According to an Advertising Specialties Impressions study, 84% of promotional products recipients remember the advertiser on the custom promotional items they receive. And, given that you can get items for a lot less than you can get online ad space, promotional items are a great way to market your products or business in these tough economic times.

Here are some tips on how to use promotional items to make an impact for your small business:

Think Form and Function: One of the biggest challenges in using promotional items is in choosing a gift that will end up on someone’s desktop and not in the trash can underneath it.…

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What’s Your Sustainable Competitive Advantage?

competitive advantageLet’s talk about strategy for a second.

If the Internet has torn down so many of the traditional barriers that prevented businesses from becoming successful, why is making money online so much harder than doing business in “the real world”?

Well, strangely enough, the lack of barriers is actually a disadvantage since it pushes more competitors into your market. This actually makes it HARDER to do business online, rather than EASIER.

Also, you must keep in mind that if you DO become successful, other people will begin to copy you… or even automate your tactics! If you haven’t properly defended your position, they can quickly move in to drown out your lead generation channel.…

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Paper Marketing is Not Dead

direct mail marketing with postcardsJudging by the tone of most marketing blogs, you would guess that all business was either conducted on Google or Facebook. But it’s easy to forget that many of the tried-and-true methods of the past are still just as valid today.

Take postcards for example… they’re fantastic!

You can just load up your prospect list in Excel, run the stack through your ink-jet printer, and you’re ready for the mailbox. There are no letters to fold, no envelopes to stuff, and (for large volumes) no stamps to peel.

Postcards also work great in tandem with your online efforts. If you record a different themed webinar every month, you’ll have a new reason for prospects to engage with you in each mailing.  …

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Running a Global Business on a Shoestring

operating a global business on a budgetBusinesses today need to look beyond geographical borders in order to expand. There is a whole world of consumers, customers and clients out there waiting to buy your service or product. Opportunities aplenty await the astute businessman willing to take the risk and go global.

Going Global“ does not need to be expensive.   It’s relatively straightforward and cost-effective to target foreign markets if you are astute enough and cost conscious enough. Neil Payne set up his business on a laptop in a studio flat in 2004. He now oversees a company with offices in the UK, USA, Argentina, South Africa, Germany and the UAE.…

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Small Business Payroll Taxes

payroll taxesThere is no escaping the wrath of the IRS when it comes to unpaid taxes. There are several differences between running a small business versus a large corporation, but at the end of the day, payroll taxes are something that all business owners must pay close attention to in order to avoid problems with the IRS.

Owing the IRS is not the same as owing a lender or creditor. In the latter situation, you can often negotiate or work out payment arrangements that will allow you to avoid legal ramifications and get your accounts in order without losing your business. The IRS is not a lender nor creditor and will take aggressive action with collection efforts.…

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Guarding Your Balance Sheet – Tips for Survival in Today’s Volatile Market

saving money in a down economyAs the recession continues to extend into 2010, we continue to be inundated by news about the challenges that face the small business community.

While we are not completely out of the woods in terms of the economy, there are several things that small business owners can do to protect their businesses during these challenging times:

Manage Collections: Outstanding invoices should be aggressively followed up on round-the-clock. Having unpaid invoices will create instability. Be aggressive and assume the worst.

Collect Upfront: Make sure that all of your contracts stipulate payment upfront. Net 30 can stretch into Net 60, then you are stuck doing work for 2-3 months without being paid.…

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Searching For A New Bank To Suit Your Business Needs

searching for a new bankThere aren’t many good news stories about banks these days so if you’re looking for a new bank you may be facing the quagmire of what to look for and who to turn to when searching for a new bank. The answer may rest upon what your personal and or business banking needs are.

For business owners, entrepreneurs and consumers seeking personal guidance, it is important to recognize that your relationship with your bank is extremely important.  This is one relationship that requires serious time and examination.

I believe the examination process is twofold. On one side of the equation you’ll want to look at the financial stability and business model of the bank to ensure it can provide the financial strength and safety needed to stay in business and serve your needs in a favorable manner to you.…

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Small Business Owners: Beware of Fraud

business fraudSmall business owners have a higher risk of identity fraud than other adults according to a recent study co-sponsored by ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, and The Financial Services Roundtable.

The Javelin Strategy & Research 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report found that overall identity fraud grew by 14% in 2009 to 11.1 million adults, in part due to the economic downturn. Small business owners are one-and-a-half more times likely to be a victim than other adults

“The higher incidence of identity fraud among small business owners is probably due to the fact that they have more accounts and conduct more transactions,” said ITAC President Anne Wallace.…

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