Effective Marketing For Your Small Business

No matter what your niche may be, it is a common belief that marketing your business effectively can be somewhat of a headache that will require a considerable amount of planning, time and most importantly, money. When it comes to small businesses, effective planning is a must in order to help your business thrive and stay ahead of your competitors. Without a thorough marketing campaign in place, not only could your business go unnoticed by your target market, but you may lose out on sales to other, similar businesses.There is a misconception that marketing is more or less the same as advertising and is something which can be completed by just about anyone. Although marketing is incredibly easy to understand and apply to your small business, advertising and marketing your business are completely different and are both vital in order for your business to thrive and succeed. By adhering to the following steps, your business will not only benefit from a more thorough marketing plan, but also a more aggressive take on your current marketing strategies.Devise A Clear Plan: Before getting to the grind with any marketing campaign, it is imperative that you are firstly clear of what your goals are in regards to your small business marketing. Identify who your target market is to ensure that you receive optimized results and identify what the needs of these customers are to ensure that your products and services, thus your marketing plan, caters for these requirements.List Your Small Business: Directory listings- both on and offline- are a great way in which to optimize your business’ exposure. Yellow pages, local business directories and even online business directories can help you target both local and further afield customers (depending on your niche and capabilities). It is extremely beneficial to add listings both on and offline as often, when a customer looks for a business in an offline directory, they will often check the web for further information. Ensure that your listing is clear, concise and be creative with what you say about yourself. It is always beneficial to investigate into how other, similar businesses have listed their services for some ideas.Press Release Distribution: Press releases are a great way to get free publicity and what’s more, you do not need to help of a professional PR company in order to utilize this medium. By writing your own press releases and submitting these to various blogs and websites with added links back to your site, you can help increase your company’s awareness backlinks which in turn will increase your page ranking within search engines.Optimize Your Website: It is advantageous to frequently monitor your site in regards to your content, design and features. Keep your site up to date with current trends or trends that are used with competing businesses, and ensure that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is applied throughout the entire site to help increase your page rankings, thus your traffic. Always check the functions of your site and ensure it is easy to navigate as confusing sites will only result in lost sales. Sign up to social networking sites such as Twitter which can link back to your site as a way in which to notify consumers of your presence, increase your presence on the web and also help drive visitors to your site.Customer Contact: Many small businesses will, from time to time, experience a decrease in their sales which more often than not is due to lack of communication with their customers. By submitting monthly or quarterly newsletters or e-marketing letters, you can remind your existing customers of your services, notify them of your promotions and potentially even obtain new customers should your newsletters be passed on.Monitor Your Progress: Throughout the duration of your marketing campaign, it is imperative that you monitor your progress and clearly identify what works and what does not. Often, a business will waste money continuing with an ineffective strategy without investigating into why it does not work or how it can be altered. Not every marketing strategy will work for your small business, so eliminating those that will hinder rather than aid your business is crucial.Effectively marketing your small business is imperative in order to gain the success you desire, but by ensuring that all bases are covered, you could reap some exceptional benefits. Marketing is a board spectrum and those methods which work for your business may not work for others, and vice versa. However, by understanding the needs of your target market and being aware of how these needs can be marketed effectively, you are guaranteed to see success from your marketing efforts.

What a Pharmacy Technician Does

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?I have been writing articles on why and how to become a pharmacy technician, but some recent feedback has made me realize I left out the obvious. What is it that pharmacy technicians do in a pharmacy? Most people figure they help the pharmacist enter prescriptions and count pills. This is true for an outpatient pharmacy, also called a retail pharmacy, but there are many roles for pharmacy technicians in healthcare. The rest of this article will list different types of pharmacy settings and the roles that pharmacy technicians have in these settings.Community/Retail Pharmacy:I have worked retail, and I prefer other settings; however, it is where a large percentage of pharmacy technician jobs are found. What a pharmacy technician can do is determined by the state they work via state laws and rules. In general, technicians cannot provide clinical information to patients or be the final check for prescriptions. In some states, technicians are allowed to provide information on over-the-counter (OTC) medication (ie, medications that do not require a prescription, such as, acetaminophen and ibuprofen). Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Collecting patient information (insurance and personal information as needed)
• Entering and processing prescriptions in the computer system
• Filling and selling prescriptions
• Requesting refills from doctor offices for patients
• Compounding medications that are not commercially available
• Ordering medications
• Restocking shelves
• Answering the phone
• Working with insurance companies on approving payment for certain medications
• Maintaining the cash register and conducting accounting functionsHospital Pharmacy:There are many different roles for pharmacy technicians in a hospital pharmacy. I know this type of pharmacy best since this is where most of my work has been. The most common are technicians who work in the central pharmacy. In addition we have decentralized techs, sterile compounding techs, billing techs, OR techs, narcotic techs, database techs, automation techs, team lead techs, and buyer techs. These technicians as a whole perform the following tasks, but not limited to:


• Filling new orders, this includes a variety of medications from oral medications to specially prepared sterile compound medications (including chemotherapy meds)
• Answering the phone
• Tubing medications (if the pharmacy has a pneumatic tube station)
• Preparing medications for delivery
• Delivering medications
• Assisting floor pharmacists with medication histories
• Assisting floor pharmacists with IV drip checks
• Handling missing dose calls
• Billing medications where nurse charting does not bill
• Maintaining the pharmacy database
• Restocking operating rooms and anesthesia trays with appropriate medication
• Dispensing and tracking all controlled substances throughout the hospital
• Maintaining automation equipment [automated dispensing cabinets that store medication on nursing units, automatic fill systems (typically called Robot-Rx)]
• Purchasing of all medication and supplies needed in the pharmacy
• Leading and managing the technician workforce, including upkeep of schedulesLong-Term Care Pharmacy:I have worked at a couple of long-term care pharmacies, and I think it is a great place to be a technician. They typically employee a lot of techs because the work load lends itself to a lot of technician tasks. These pharmacies provide the medication needs for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and psychiatric facilities. The typical pharmacy is located in a warehouse. It does not have an open pharmacy for people to come to; they receive orders by fax and deliver all medications via couriers or drivers to facilities. The oral medication is filled in blister packs (cards of 30 tabs that are used to provide a 1 month supply of medication), or some other mechanism that provide the facility with an extended amount of medication doses that can be safely and cleanly kept until doses are due. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Filling new and refill orders (different from hospital because of the number of doses provided)
• Processing new order and refills coming through the fax machine
• Order entry of prescriptions and printing of labels for fill techs
• Sterile compounding of medications (although there aren’t as many sterile compounded medications as a hospital, there are still enough that most long-term care pharmacies have a few techs specialize in sterile compounding
• Billing medications to homes
• Controlled substance dispensing and documentation
• Ordering medications and supplies
• Restocking medications that are returned that are still suitable for reuse.Home Infusion Pharmacy:These pharmacies primarily care for patients that require some form of IV or other non oral medication, and want to receive the therapy at home (hence the name home-infusion). I have also worked in a home-infusion pharmacy. As a tech I had a lot of experience in sterile compounding, and found my self in any position that needed a IV room tech. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Compounding sterile preparations in the clean room
• Preparing supplies associated with sterile medication administration for delivery
• Billing medications delivered to patients home
• Coordinating deliveries of medications with patients
• Entering orders in the pharmacy order entry systemNuclear Pharmacy:No, I have not worked in a nuclear pharmacy (I am sure you were staring to think I got around quite a bit, but I have been in pharmacy for about 17 years). I have some friends who work in a nuclear pharmacy. The hours are interesting; they usually come in at about 3 AM and work until about noon. These types of pharmacies make radioactive compounds and they need to be made in a way that when they are delivered to the hospital or clinic administering them, that the dose has degraded to a specific amount. Without going into too much detail, these medications have short half-lives. So they have to time the compounding of the product with the time it takes to deliver the medication and the time the patient is to receive the dose. The job pays well, but as you can imagine, there are not a ton of these positions available. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:


• Preparing radioactive products
• Cleaning and preparing sterile compounding areas
• Entering orders into the pharmacy system
• Coordinating dose due times with deliveries and preparation
• Billing products to hospital or clinicHealth Plans/HMO Pharmacy Group:I saved this one for last because it is a lot different. Most healthcare plans have a pharmacy department. They manage the pharmacy benefit of the health plan. I have worked with my companies health plan and have spent some time with the pharmacy department. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Answering phone calls and providing support for patients on the pharmacy benefit
• Reviewing prior authorization requests
• Providing support to physicians and drug companies for information requests
• Supporting the pharmacists in the department with database and projects as neededAs you can see, pharmacy technician roles can be very diverse. The best advice I can give you is to figure out what setting you would most like to work in and obtain some experiential hours in that setting. I have found that the type of pharmacy you train in is typically the type of pharmacy you end up working in.

How To Start A Photography Business – Knowing When You’re Really Ready And Knowing Other Differences

Here’s a question: How do you know when you’re ready to start a photography business? Answer: When you ‘know’ that you ‘know’ (the doublespeak is for emphasis) the difference between your artistic photography skills and your understanding of business. Knowing the difference makes the difference between success and failure when you start any type of business, for that matter.Tip #1Think about it, the art of taking pictures is getting easier and easier – especially with the advancement of technology. Digital technology has made photography so easy that it appears that everybody and their brothers and their sisters are photographers! Such ease makes photography a very popular attraction and very compelling to start a photo biz.But, what many budding photographers fail to realize and take seriously is that: Business is Business. Whether selling teddy bears, cell phones or photography, the business principles are the same. And they are basic and simple (not easy – simple). Successful photographers aren’t necessarily the most skilled. They understand and practice the basic and simple principles of running a photography business. They also don’t confuse the quality of their photography with the need to plan, market and operate their photography business.Don’t be confused! You must consistently produce top-notch quality products and photographic services. Constantly improving your skills is critical. So is the learning and consistent practice of business principles. If you don’t consistently practice the necessary business principles, budding photographers that do know the difference and practice the principles will get the customers and the business that should be yours. If you fail to practice the principles you will fail at your photography business attempts. Period. You will be another charter member of the ‘starving artist’ club! There’s a reason why they’re ‘starving!’


Once you do start a picture-taking business, every day that you’re in business there’s opportunity to grow and prosper, and the chance to stagnate and fail. Your being clear on the difference between photography practices and business practices determine the success of your photography business more than your photographic skills and talents. Be sure to spend as much time developing your photography skills as you do your business (marketing, self-promotion activities, for example) skills and you will find success.Compliment vs Reality – Tip #2Most budding photographers have this experience: a good friend, family member or neighbor sees a photograph and ‘raves’ how good it looks and how ‘valuable’ it ‘should’ be! Somewhere in their raving they proclaim, “you should sell that, you’ll probably make a lot of money!” Red flag warning! What is given as a compliment of your photograph is instantly translated to your having a “diamond” that you can sell and that will change your ‘status’ in life. Here’s a test: the next time you receive such a ‘compliment,’ do this: thank them and then ask them how much are they willing to pay you for the photo? I promise you that the same ‘expert’ that just raved about your valuable artwork will pass on the ‘opportunity’ to grab up your ‘valuable’ artistic photo. In the photography business value is determined by other criteria than a compliment or two. Knowing the difference contributes to your success in business.Develop your knowledge and skill and your confidence as a photographer will dramatically increase. Likewise with business: develop and practice basic business principles and your confidence as a successful professional photographer will dramatically increase. I promise.Research Builds Confidence – Tip #3Do your research. Go online and read the available research on the business of photography. Read before you buy. Online research is just a click away. Take your time. Take advantage of free and easily available information online. If you choose to buy something offered, determine what goals you want to accomplish and ask yourself will what you’re buying help you to really meet your goals. Avoid the resources that promise and guarantee you that you can make $200 – $300 a day overnight – for obvious reasons. Also, there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know!” There is information that you do not know now. But, isn’t information that is unknowable or impossible to find out – they’re just unknown to you at this time. Do your research. Besides, if they’re for sale, how “secret” can they be? Do your researchIn the business of photography, it is more profitable to specialize. Specialization (also referred to as your “photography niche”) is how your customers will find you. Another development of technology is how customers – those who can afford and are willing to spend money for photography – find the photography that they buy. They look for something specific (in photographer speak that means “photography niche”). Go online and do a search on “photography niche” and take advantage of the information available. Remember, read before you buy; there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know;” and great photography does not sell itself. In the world of business, nothing does.For business purposes, go online and do a search on different business topics that you want more information about. For example, do a search for “photography marketing” or “marketing for photographers” or “amateur photography tips” or “how to sell photos online” or “how to start a photography business” etc. etc. Read before you buy.Know And Start Where You Are And Be ‘Sincere’ – Tip #4


Start where you are with the equipment that you have. If you don’t have a photography studio don’t take on photography jobs that require a studio. Don’t be all things to all people – remember, specialize (research “photography niche” – you’ll be head and shoulders above the majority of your competition). If you feel that you have to purchase equipment to take on a job – that’s a red flag that you’re not ready, yet. In successful photography, the profit is in the “photography niche” and your understanding of that simple difference.Doing your research will prepare you for one of the biggest challenges most photographers have – pricing. The challenge of knowing exactly what to charge stops most of us in our tracks. It shouldn’t! Do your research. Search “photography pricing,” for example. The information is available and most of it is free. Remember, read before you buy.In my opinion, there really is no one criteria needed to start a profitable photo business. However, my experience has convinced me that self-confidence is the most significant asset a photographer in business can possess. You develop that self-confidence by knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know – and being crystal clear on the difference. Confidence is gained by knowing the necessary criteria needed and knowing that you possess the knowledge and skills to consistently accomplish tasks in a satisfactory manner.Research, develop and practice both your photography knowledge and skills as well as your photography business knowledge and skills.Finally, when vaudevillian, George Burns, was asked what was the secret to his successful career, he responded – “sincerity, be sincere – even if you have to fake it!”

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This is how a website purposefully designs it content, including their titles, content and meta tags, for the sole purpose of getting the attention of search engines like Google, Yahoo and the lesser known Bing. What SEO wants to achieve is an organic or natural flow of traffic to their websites that is not bought or paid for like we do when we pay for advertising. A search engine result is free.SEM is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing. It is a concept often associated with SEO, sometimes even confused with SEO. They have some goals in purpose but are very different in technique. SEM has come about because large search engine websites like Google have offered fees to show case ads on the top of their page listing. These are pay per click or PPC ad campaigns. SEM is closer to traditional advertising in that you pay for the direct exposure you are receiving. SEM has made it possible to be a website with high visitor content just because they pay more to be advertised and promoted by Google. Both SEM and SEO are sets of strategies to bring in visitors. Except you pay up front for SEM, it is a direct advertising strategy. While with SEO, you look for indirect ways to get noticed.Optimizing a website for search engines, will mean evaluating particular keywords and keyword phrases the internet users may type into search engines to look for service and products that an ecommerce based business may offer. The grit of SEO is editing website content with keywords. Including keywords and keyword phrases in tags and meta tags. Even links and HTML is edited to suit SEO. HTML and links are worked out in a way to get the website user to move a certain way within your website. Ideally, the website visitor is presented with links around the website, going from page to page to read information they are interested in. This design makes it so the website user does not leave the website immediately.


SEO works best when the SEO professional does not try to find underhanded ways to cheat the search engine system. Such tricks will get a website flagged by the search engines, since they use practices that are discouraged. Even if the website does rise to prominence for a moment on the Google rankings, reading content over peppered with keywords will get the website pulled down even faster. SEO tricks like link farming, keyword abuse and page cloaking get picked up by the search engine algorithms and they push the website to the top of search results. You can trick the machine. But after people start reading your content, it becomes apparent that the website is a fraud.The best way to climb to the top is by following ethical SEO guidelines. Write good content with proper technical guidelines. You can learn to do this yourself. You can also hire a writing service who will do this for your. But if you want to really get out there the fast way, consider SEM. A Pay Per Click ad campaign means that you only get charged for clicks on the link to your website. You know exactly what you are getting for your money.Search Engine Marketing is guaranteed promotion for any business. Pay per click is one for few guaranteed strategies for success in attract the coveted targeted consumer. But you can and you should use both SEO and SEM at the same time. Both are invaluable resources. Here is a list of benefits that will be available to your website with the help of SEM:1. When somebody types in a query into a search engine, the search engine will present them only ads and banners in the same industry or interest of the query.
2. Pay Per Click is great for corporate awareness, aside from online sales. It increases the value of the brand name.
3. Pay per clicks and sponsored links are transparent. You know what your money is paying for, as presented by the numbers.
4. Keeping well written and informative landing pages will lead readers to explore your website and see what else is available.
5. You only pay for the traffic volume that the pay per click ad has brought in. And this traffic is select, meaning they have interest in your service or product.


In a way SEO and SEM are the same concepts wrapped in different presentations. SEO will last longer because it is content based. You do not pay for it every time it shows up in search engine results. If the competition is low, your website will be highly ranked for a very long time. SEM operates with the same traffic volume objective buy in a different way using paid Ads, banners, sponsors and Pay per click services. It brings in traffic too over a shorter period of time, unless you can keep payments indefinite. But the websites that gain the most use both SEO and SEM aggressively.1. They get more traffic that increases exponentially if they keep up content.
2. They keep up with rankings over a long period of time.
3. They keep it innovative and fresh, so loyal visitors have something new to see and come back to visit again.
4. Content keeps up with relevance to search engine guidelines.
5. They cultivate repeat visitors who also become repeat customers.Being SEO ready means your website is easy to access, user friendly, and easy to navigate for the average user. There are gimmicks, games, polls, promos to entertain the internet user and keep them coming back. This attracts visitors and other websites to link to your own website.