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.

How IT Companies Can Effectively Manage Client Hardware

Despite the emergence of “The Cloud”, local hardware will always be required. Even the most basic small business client has a router, a network switch, a PC and one or more printers. Other clients may have Firewalls, Servers, Plotters, Multi-Function Units and any array of other hardware – most of it IP-enabled.Multiply that by multiple clients, and you’ve got an awful lot of hardware that becomes really easy to waste a lot of time and effort trying to manage – if you’re not organized.From Chaos to OrderThe first step in bringing order to the chaos is to buy a Label Printer. My personal favorite is the P-Touch Handheld range from Brother. Anything that you can easily carry with you, plug into the mains (battery operated is fine – but batteries run out, and you then start to forget to label things) and print labels will do the job. If you have more than one engineer, buy them all label printers and get them to label them with their own names – they’ll be more inclined to look after them.Next, organize a time for an engineer to visit client sites with his labeler at the ready – grabbing and labeling anything and everything with a power plug on the end and making a written note of each to take back to the office.(Talking of power plugs, get your engineers into the habit of labeling these too, especially servers. Clearly knowing which plug belongs to a PC and which to a monitor is a real benefit when you’re crawling under a dark desk on a dirty floor trying to work out what to unplug and what not to.)Why Labels?But why bother labeling things?


Firstly, you’re acknowledging the existence of a device. If it’s labeled, you know about it and can document it for future reference.Secondly, when new hardware “mysteriously” appears at a client site and a client calls you for support on it (probably outside your support contract) you can save yourself a heap of time trying to work out why Windows 7 Home Edition is installed on it rather than a Business O/S.Thirdly, labeling hardware speeds up the support process. If a user telephones the Helpdesk to say they can’t print to “That printer in the corner of the office”, then you can ask them to read the label and quickly identify which printer it is that they’re trying to print to.What to label?What the label says depends on the hardware, but the label should help you easily identify the hardware in question. Some examples:-PCs – Workstation name, Fixed IP address (if applicable)
Servers – Server name, Fixed IP address, Domain name
Routers/Firewalls – External IP address, Internal IP address
Network Switches – Internal IP address, Management IP address
Local Printers – Locally attached Workstation name
Network Printers – Fixed IP address, Queue Name (//Server/Queue)We’re not going to worry about Workstation and Server naming schemes, IP address ranges or any other standards just yet. Right now we’re focusing on documenting what’s already out there.In some cases the engineer won’t be able to identify network equipment. Rather than ignore the hardware, they should label it as “unidentified” and raise a support ticket or make a written note to investigate how to identify it later.This takes some time, especially if you have a lot of clients – but it’s time well spent. You should make this type of ‘discovery work’ a part of the on-boarding process of every new client, as the time spent discovering hardware now will pay dividends when you’re supporting that same hardware later – perhaps in a time-sensitive situation.Document your findingsGoing forwards, make it a policy that from now on, every piece of hardware you deploy to a client site should have a label on it.Document your findings. If you have an RMM tool such as GFI Max, then you’ll already be able to scan networks for devices. Supplement this automated information with your own findings.Pretty soon you’ll have a good overview of the hardware at all your client sites. It’ll make supporting the client, both remotely and on-site, a *lot* easier.The use of the labeler as a force of good doesn’t stop there.Hardware in the WorkshopWhenever an engineer brings a piece of hardware back to the Workshop for troubleshooting, it needs to be labeled. You might label it with the client’s name, a brief overview of the issue, and if you’re using a ticket system, the ticket number.This might sound obvious, but how many times do engineers walk back into the office, drop off some faulty hardware and then get distracted by something else? In this scenario, a colleague may be left scratching his head over who the hardware belongs to and why it’s here, or worse, think the hardware is “spare” and go and re-use it for another job they are working on…


Talking of spare hardware – it’s worth creating a process to deal with this too. I like to create an area of the workshop that is specifically for Hardware under Repair, Hardware under testing, and Hardware for disposal. Then, as hardware comes in…If it’s hardware that is to be sent back to a manufacturer under RMA, it’s labeled as such and placed in the “Under Repair” area of the workshop.If it’s hardware that may be faulty and required testing, a ticket is raised for this and it’s labeled as “For Testing” and labeled with the appropriate ticket number. The hardware is then placed in the “For Testing” area, and you can confidently give your newly employed Junior Technician something productive to do on his first day in the office.If it’s hardware for disposal, it’s labeled with the fault and marked as “For Disposal”. It’s placed in the “For Disposal” area of the workshop and once every few weeks you arrange for a specialist IT disposal company to collect the pile and dispose of it in an ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.Save Time With LabelsThe amount of time IT companies can waste trying to re-use faulty hardware that has simply been left lying around, or re-testing known faulty equipment is mind-blowing.A simple system of labeling such hardware saves hours of wasted time.I hope this article has helped to describe how armed with a label printer you can build the basis of a series of systems that lay out how your business deals with client hardware.

Purchasing a New Automobile

Should you be considering the purchase of an automobile, there are some common traps that you will be smart to elude. Continue reading to find out how you can obtain the best deal from your bargaining.As you are dealing with a salesperson at an automobile dealership, you want to make certain that you maintain the position of control. Making sure that the salesperson is aware of the fact that you are looking solely for the best price with no regard for loyalty to any dealership should keep him off balance. You must drive the dialogue.As you affirm your place as the one controlling the negotiations, do not forget that the salesperson is not your buddy. Do not establish an amicable relationship with a salesperson until you have signed the forms and the deal is done. Up to that time, he is just representing the dealership in your particular business deal.


The salesperson surely will try to create a friendship with you since such a personal empathy will increase the probability that you will agree to unfavorable prices and terms. It is for this reason that you must maintain the relationship as a serious business transaction.Performing some research before you go to the dealership will help your bargaining position. Check the newspaper for advertisements showing prices for the automobile in which you are interested. You can also obtain good insight by finding the Kelly Bluebook value of the vehicle.Should you be determined to discover just exactly what the vehicle is going to cost, find several previous customers who purchased the automobile you want and examine the terms of their sales contracts. With this data, you can calculate the best cost for your automobile by contrasting baseline price plus the cost of add-ons.


Remember that the dealership needs your business more than you need the dealership! They cannot simply scare up another customer, but you certainly can locate another dealership should you not get satisfactory terms.Lastly, do best to exude confidence via your speech, actions and even your stance. Demonstrate to the salesperson that you have no self-doubt whatsoever, and he will not have the opportunity to use it against you. Do not forget that you are in charge! And never agree to buy the vehicle until such time as you are satisfied with both the vehicle and the terms of the sale.

Outsource Your Online Business Creation And Focus On Marketing

When marketing online, you will tend to try to do everything by yourself in order to save money. Good if you are expert in everything that you intend to do but you are just wasting a lot of time and effort if you are new and try to learn everything. What you should do is outsource those skills that you do not possess and concentrate on your online marketing efforts.Imagine putting all your hard work into creating your online business and when you are done, the results are nothing but mediocre. If you are not good at something, admit it and get someone who is good at doing it to do for you.


Here are 3 types of business creation steps you can outsource.1. Website DesignIf you know zilch about HTML, PHP, FTP, etc; you shouldn’t really look into learning all of them. While they are good knowledge to possess, sometimes it is better to get a website designer to do them for you.There are many web developers online and the prices of website creation are not that expensive unless of course if you are looking to do a huge website.2. Graphics DesignIf you cannot design graphics, then stop pretending to be an artist. Graphic designers online have now become more sophisticated and with the advent of terms such as Web 2.0, the learning curve has been longer than ever if you want to do the same.What you can do is either but graphics which have been pre-designed and insert them on your websites or simply get a custom graphic designed for you. You will certainly appreciate the more stunning designs that can be created by graphics designers.


3. Writing ServicesWell, not everyone can write well. Thus you can always hire writers to write the content of your website for you. Armed with experience and mastery of the language plus an eye for researching about various topics, writers can make your job easier and you do not even need to reach out for a pen or type away endlessly on your keyboard.While there are many other services which your can outsource like search engine optimization and website submissions, you will do well to pay for such services and focus on your marketing instead.