File sharing options for small businessRecently I had a reader ask me how they can send large files to customers and clients.  They were uploading image and audio files as an email attachment, and the emails were either returned undeliverable or just never arrived at their destination.

Sending attachments via email have a few inherent problems.  The file size limit is usually quite small (usually under 25mb), and sometimes emails with attachments get caught up in spam filters, especially if you're not a known and trusted sender to the email recipient.

So what do you do?  Fortunately there are lots of great services that will let you send large files easily without having to worry about failed uploads or undelivered emails.

Below are 3 file sharing services that I have used in the past and found to be reliable.  All are free, with paid options if you want additional storage and options.  The basic concept with all of these services is that instead of directly uploading the file to the email, you upload it to their servers and then simply email the link to the file to your recipient.  When your recipient opens the email, they can click on the link and will be able to download the file onto their computer.

 

Dropbox

This  is my favorite and is the most robust cloud storage/sharing service of the bunch.  Dropbox lets you sync files across multiple computers, share and generate public links for files.  Download the Dropbox software and it creates a special folder on your computer.  Whatever files you place in that folder, are automatically synced with Dropbox.  You can sync multiple computers and have them all share the same files inside the Dropbox folder.  Everything is synced automatically across multiple computers.  You also have the ability to share files and folders with other people, making it a very versatile service.

Ge.tt

I've been using Ge.tt for a few years now.  I use this service when I need to send a large, one off file that I won't need again.  I can upload the file, email the link, and forget it.  You can send files without registering for an account, or you can register for the free service for added features.  The nice thing with Ge.tt is that you can share the link to your file(s) before they have finished uploading.

YouSendIt

I don't use this service very often, but I've used it over the past 3 years on occasion and have always had a good experience with it.  Offers a free plan with 2GB of space. For the paid plans, they offer advanced features like password protected files, digital signing of documents and more.

Stop sending email attachments

So here you have 3 file sharing services that should replace you attaching files to your emails, especially the bigger ones.  There are lots of other free and paid file sharing services available online, which ones have you found to work well for you?

 

Franchise business conceptsFranchising is a no safer business bet than going out on your own.

Let's look at the statistics.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), in a study of SBA backed small business loans determining failure rates, they concluded,”There is not much difference in SBA loan guarantee failure rates between franchise and non-franchised businesses. In lay terms, slightly less than 6 of every 100 SBA loans for non-franchised businesses go into a work-out with the bank/SBA, compared to about 6 ½ of every 100 SBA loans for franchised businesses.”  They concluded that franchise and independent businesses have a similar success rate, judging from the default rates of SBA backed loans.

I thought franchising was supposed to be a safer bet?

It is,….except when it isn't.

In my opinion, success and failure in franchising has to do with some of these contributing factors:

A proven business model. The founder of the franchise may be able to make it work, but how many franchisees have been successful over a sustained period of time?

Start up costs.  Franchising involves additional fees above and beyond regular startup costs.  Franchises fees, mandatory marketing funds and ongoing royalties are just a few added expenses that independent business don't have.

Experience.  Sometimes individuals with no prior experience or aptitude for business are drawn into franchising as it's seen as safe bet.  They rely too heavily on the franchise system to make up for their shortcomings.  With independent businesses, it's sink or swim.

Franchising can still be a great investment.  There are hundreds of proven systems out there and many franchisees are doing very well with their businesses.  The thing is, how do you decide what's a good bet and what's a fad?  You don't want to go spending your life savings on something that's a novelty.

Be smart.

Put the concept to the test:

How long has it been in existence?  A new franchise system isn't necessarily a bad bet, it just hasn't been fully tested as a business model yet.  You also don't know if the business is cashing in on a current trend or fad that will fall out of favor in a few years.  An example are cereal food franchises, where you go to a physical location to eat cereal at all times of the day.  People have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to open up cereal franchises. It was a novelty trend a few years back that has now lost it's flavor.

How many units are operating?  The founder of the company may be able to make the business model work, but have franchisees done the same?  Don't be the Guinea pig (that's exactly what you are) the franchisor uses to work out the bugs in the business model, with your life savings.

What is the failure rate?  Just looking at the net gain/loss of units is not enough.  The franchise may have had a net gain of 25 units over the course of the year.  What you didn't know is that they actually opened 125 units in the year, while another 100 units went out of business.  That may be a serious red flag.

Can it be easily replicated without great time and expense?  Many franchise concepts can be replicated, the question is, can a single person replicate it without great time and expense.  Usually the franchise has grown to a point where a single person alone cannot replicate it, making it valuable   In franchising  your not only buying into the product, you're also buying into the system.  If I asked you if you could create a better McDonald's hamburger, you'd probably say yes (with ease).  That's the product.  If I asked you (I already know the answer) if you could create a better operational system than McDonald's, you'd say no.  There aren't many companies on earth than can come close to their operational efficiencies.  Make sure you're buying into a rock solid product or a rock solid operational system.  Hopefully both.

Can you see this concept being popular 10 years from now?  This is more of a judgement call.  What seems cool today  may be lame tomorrow.  Is this something people will always need (think healthcare and children's services) or is it a “nice to have”, but can easily be cut out by consumers if need be.  While there are plenty of opportunities in disposable income markets, they are usually the first to go in a recession, as we've all seen in recent years.

Tried and true or just a fad?  It's hard to say, unless you look back into the past, then it's pretty easy to spot the fads.  Check out this infographic by Entrepreneur magazine that points out some up and coming trends, as well as some that have fizzled out.

Franchise trends and fads

 

 

 

star wars quotes-yodaEach week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Croppola – An amazing (and free) online image editor that automatically suggests the cropping of images for you.  Create images in several aspect ratios, including Facebook cover images.

Rafflecopter –  Probably the easiest platform to run promotions and giveaways for your business.  Create, run and track your own promotions via Social Media.  Free and paid plans available

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

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There are two words on the lips of today’s tech mavens: “cloud” and “computing.” From corporate headquarters to funky design studios, it’s hard to go a day without crossing someone waxing eloquent about their cloud expertise. And yet, when you really ask people on the street, few have a deep sense of just what cloud computing is and what it can do for them:

It looks like those two words should really be three: cloud computing guide. Here we take a good hard look at the cloud, busting a few myths along the way and exploring all of the good and all of the bad.

Just what is cloud computing?

“Instead of having all of your data stored in a local place, you can actually have it stored off-location, and it’s accessible from any number of devices.”

You heard it loud and clear in the video above, and there’s no better way to say it. Right now, you’re probably used to storing, say, that Microsoft Word file right on your computer, or perhaps on one of your company’s private servers. In the cloud, you’ll store your files on pooled servers operated by a third party, and, if you use business productivity apps, you’ll access those servers through the internet, working in some senses both on your computer and remotely through these servers.

This is called Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud computing, but if your small business has the cash flow to merit the expense, you might also be interested in Platform or Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing as well. In these two types of cloud computing, service providers either give businesses the components from which developers can build customized applications for their clients (Platform) or they host software you’ve had developed on their servers (Infrastructure…think Amazon Web Services). While certainly not cheap, this pooled resource approach does bring the cost down to a price level far more approachable for small and medium businesses than ever before.

Could computing for small business

Cloud computing photo by Shutterstock

What it can do for you

Yes, you’ve probably seen more than your fair share of tech and business trends come and go. But the cloud isn’t just a fad; it’s several decades in the making and there are many reasons why it’s popular…and why it’s going to stick around. Why? Because the cloud:
1. Saves time and increases productivity. When a business is fully plugged into the cloud, employees can access the data and projects they need from any one of the mobile devices so prevalent in today’s workplace — smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. Employees who aren’t tethered to a desk can get more done in more spaces.
2. Make collaboration easy. What’s more, because cloud-based business apps centralize projects in one place, there’s no redundant data. Edits can be made directly to shared documents without any one person needing to track and compile them into one place. This both saves time and makes collaboration a breeze, as does the ability to easily add collaborators and communicate directly from cloud-based programs, rather than toggling back and forth between the program and an email client.
3. Automate backups. Storage on the cloud requires not a single inch of brain real estate. With cloud-based storage apps, you can simply drag and drop files for syncing, or you can work directly in the applications, which save your work automatically. And because it’s the job of cloud-based companies to keep their customers’ data secure, you can bet they have better security for your work than what you’ll have on your own computer. The only downside to cloud syncing from your computer is demonstrated cogently in this networking guide. Essentially, the greater the number of files you’re backing up and the bigger they are, the more bandwidth they’ll hog and the greater the likelihood they’ll slow down your internet. As such, you might want to consider upgrading your router or switching to enterprise level internet service as you move on to the cloud.
4. Potentially save money. Whether your business runs its own servers that require upkeep or you simply find yourself paying for software updates more frequently than you would like, the cloud could be a real cost saver. Most cloud-based services are based on annual, monthly, or as-needed models, with many offering free and paid versions based on the amount of storage and features required. However, this is a case where volume and frequency are important factors to consider. You may not, for instance, need to pay a monthly fee for a service you use once a year. Use it once every hour, and it might be a better investment.

A few essential cloud apps

The cloud-o-sphere is busy with apps these days, but if you’re thinking of testing the waters, here are just a few great places to start.

1. Google products. From Google Calendar to Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations and more, there are few things you can’t do with Google Products, which are at once a hub and a productivity dashboard. Edit documents as the same time as a collaborator while talking on Google Hangouts; schedule meetings right from your email; and definitely forget about pushing save. Google products backup automatically and have every feature you — and all of your colleagues — need in one easy to find and use place.
2. Xero. Hear the words “finance” or “accounting” and you might not necessarily start buzzing with excitement. But the cloud-based finance app, Xero is buzzworthy. Imagine all of the time you’d save if you could bill a customer on your tablet immediately after making a delivery, or do the accounting on your smartphone in your off-time between the kids’ soccer games. Xero is easy to navigate, and, because you can update as you go on your mobile devices, there’s no need to block out time to enter paper data into the system.
3. Dropbox and Google Drive. These two cloud-based storage apps are the top players in the game. Simply click and drag files you’d like to back up into the app’s folder, and voila, instant syncing. If you want to access these files on the road, you can do so on any mobile device, which means everything you could conceivably need to get a job done will always be with you. Google Drive is a little different because it ties nicely into all of Google’s other products, enabling bigger attachments in Gmail and storing all of your work in Google Docs, Presentations, and so forth. However, there are avid fans of both, so choose yours accordingly.

The cloud may seem a mythical beast, but it’s easy to master with the right knowledge and tools. Doing so will be well worth mounting the very small learning curve. After all, who couldn’t benefit from a little more productivity, accessibility and collaboration? Now those are buzzwords worth keeping around.

Author Bio

Luke Clum is a creative marketer, designer and outdoorsman from Seattle.

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half. ~John Wanamaker

Where to spend your advertising dollars can be one of those areas that can drive a small business owner batty.

Marketing and advertising made perfect sense before you started your own business.  Some newspaper ads, a direct mail campaign, sprinkled with some clever online advertising….and then you sit back and wait for the customers to come pouring through the door.

Yeah……it doesn't work like that.

Old fashioned advertising ad

Who knew it could be so hard?  You learn pretty quickly that everything you thought you knew was wrong and everything you thought would work, doesn't.  At least not without a lot of effort.  One of the areas that new business owners find both exciting and confusing  is online advertising.  There are so many choices and sometimes it can be intimidating.

People are quickly moving towards the internet for everything from research to online purchases, so if you're not advertising in that space you're missing out on a pretty big chunk of your potential market.  This article will hopefully demystify some of your advertising choices and help you get started in the online advertising space without losing your shirt.

Every business is different, the advertising that works for one business may not work for another.  The good thing with online advertising is that you can usually start small and gradually expand your budget if you like the results your seeing.

Google Adwords

Adwords is the dominant player in the online advertising space.  Their search engine market share is so big that most new advertisers start here as a safe bet.  For small business owners, they offer 3 main services:

Search Marketing – When you do a Google search, on the top of the page, and along the right side of the page (see image below), you'll see several text ads included in the results.  This is search based marketing where Google pairs the search query from the user to the keywords that you would like your ad triggered for.  You only pay when a user clicks on your ad and they are taken to your website.  A basic example would be if someone typed in the term “Pizza in Charlotte”, and one of the keywords you were bidding on were the keywords” pizza” and “Charlotte”, your ad may appear in the search results in the paid advertising section of the page.

Samples google search results showing adwords ads

When and where your ad displays is a combination of how much your bidding on a keyword (it's run as an online auction where you compete with other advertisers for a given keyword), the relevancy of your ad, and the actual keywords that you're bidding on.  One of the biggest advantages of this type of advertising is that it's one of the only forms of advertising where the consumer is actually trying to find what your offering.  This makes these ads much more relevant than other forms of advertising, where it's seen more as an intrusion.

Who should consider this

If you're just getting started with advertising online, this is a great place to start.  You have total control over your budget and can start small and expand as you start to see results.  Word of caution.  Despite what Google might say, it can be complicated to set up properly and can be very expensive if you don't know what your doing and aren't monitoring your campaigns closely.  Best advice is to hire someone to manage your campaign, or to at least pay for someone to set it up properly for you and maybe do some quarterly maintenance.

Display Ads – In addition to their search advertising platform, Google has partnered with thousands of websites and have essentially rented ad space on these sites.  In display advertising, you can advertise using image based banner ads, video, text,  and dynamic ads such as animated GIF's.

Sample display ad on Youtube

When you setup a display campaign with Google, you can enter criteria as to where you want your ad shown.  It can be targeted geographically, by audience type or by the category of websites that you prefer.  While it's not as an exact match as search advertising, display ads let you reach a much wider audience than search ads and in a more visually appealing way.  Since it's not as tightly targeted as search ads, the costs are usually a bit lower.

Who should consider this

I usually suggest to start with the search ads first.  If your finding success with your search ads but want more reach, or your not getting enough clicks with your ads, display advertising is a great place to get into broader advertising without breaking your budget.  Like search ads, you can start with a small budget and expand if you find it's working for you.  You'll need to find a graphic designer to create banner ads for you in several sizes as explained here.

Remarketing – Ever go to a website to do some comparison shopping and then find over the next several weeks that their ads are everywhere?  They didn't immediately start a massive online advertising campaign after you left the site, they are remarketing to you.  The way remarketing works is that when a visitor visits your website (or a particular page if you like), Google drops a “cookie” on the visitors computer and you will be able to directly market to them for a set period of time after they leave your website.  They use their massive display ad space inventory to serve your ads while the unsuspecting user surfs the web.  It may sound a little creepy, but it's a very effective form of advertising as you're able to stay top of mind with a potential customer while they think about (or comparison shop) a purchase.

Who should consider this

If you're already running display ads with Google, a remarketing campaign is a great way to get extra mileage out of all those visitors.  You'll also already be familiar with the display ad interface.  If you do run a remarketing campaign through Google, you will need someone to help set it up for you as it requires some computer code to be placed on your website.  You'll also have to adhere to Google's privacy policy guidelines.

**If you're interested in creating your own Adwords campaign, check out this article by Hubspot.

Bing (Microsoft)

Bing is the Microsoft version of Google Adwords search marketing.  While Bing has a much smaller slice of the search engine market, they still reach a wide audience.  Their partnership with Yahoo also allows your ads to be shown in the Yahoo search results.  The nice thing with advertising on Bing is that there is a lot less competition for advertising, usually resulting in advertising costs lower than you would find with Adwords.

Through their Microsoft Advertising arm, you can also get into display advertising.  Be warned, like in typical Microsoft fashion, they do not make it easy to navigate their site.  You may find yourself just going around in circles trying to find what you're looking for.

Who should consider this

I usually recommend Bing advertising if you're reaching your maximum potential with Adwords and you want additional reach, or you're finding the cost per clicks in Adwords is just too expensive for your industry.  Insurance, lending, legal and travel are just a few of the industries that may find Bing a less expensive alternative as the costs on Adwords may be too high to make it worthwhile.

Facebook

Facebook advertising can be awesome for the right business.  You see a lot of dieting and gluten free businesses advertising in this space as it's very profitable for them.  With Facebook ads, you can create small display ads that show up while a user is browsing through their streams.  You can target your ads based on geography, interests, and demographic data.  You  thought all of those “Likes” you create every day on Facebook is just for fun?  Facebook uses that data to build a profile of you so they can then serve ads against your interests.

Typically you'll find that the cost per click is lower than Adwords, though the traffic you get isn't as targeted.  A good practice is to use ads that direct to your business's Facebook Fan page to build an audience there so you can create a direct line of communication with your customers.

Sample Facebook ads

Who should consider this

Your marketing to a different audience than you find on Adwords or Bing.  You have the ability to control your budget so it may be a good idea to test the Facebook waters and see what kind of response you get.  If you're just launching a Fan Page for your business, this is a good way to build up Fans in a hurry

** If you're interested in giving Facebook advertising a try, check out this article from Kissmetrics

Twitter

Twitter recently rolled out Sponsored Tweets and Sponsored Accounts to most advertisers, allowing small businesses to get into the Twitter advertising mix.  You have two advertising options as a small business owner:

Promoted Accounts – Twitter will search through your current followers and  will then search out similar accounts not following you, adding you a recommended account when they are looking to follow people.

Promoted Tweets – When you traditionally send out a Tweet from your account, it will be broadcasted to the people that are currently following you.  With Promoted Tweets, your Tweets can reach an audience outside of just your followers, allowing you greater reach than you currently have.

Twitter promoted tweets

Who should consider this

If you're currently very active on Twitter and you're finding success with it, Twitter advertising can potentially supercharge your growth on the platform.  If you aren't using it, or just getting started, I would recommend that you start building a loyal following before you attempt any sort of paid advertising on the platform.

** If you're interested in advertising on Twitter, check out this guide from Search Engine Watch.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers ad targeting very similar to what you would find on Facebook.  You can target your ads based on industry, job titles, LinkedIn groups or company size.  You pay on a cost per click basis, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.  The cost per clicks are higher than you would find on Facebook, and even Adwords (depending on the industry).

Sample of a LinkedIn ad

Who should consider it

If you're business is BtoC, don't bother.  If you're in BtoB and target specific industries and professionals, LinkedIn ads can be a laser targeted way for you to reach that specific audience.  Like most of the other platforms, you can set an initial budget and run a test campaign to see how effective it is.  Like with Twitter, I would only recommend using it if you are active on LinkedIn as many people might look up your personal/company profile to find out more about you.  You want to give the impression that you are active on the platform.

** If you're interested in advertising on LinkedIn, check out this guide from Hubspot.

Directory Listings

Directories are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes.  You have general directories with no specific audience, niche directories, which target a specific industry, location specific directories, which only serve a single city or town, as well as dozens of other types of directories.

Many directories are free and it's a great way to get your business name out there, as well as a link pointing back to your website (for search engine optimization).  The question is, should I pay to be included in a directory?  The answer is, it depends.  For many directories, the real benefit you're getting out of it is a link and citation from that directory for your website, which may in turn help your business rank higher in the search results.  Sometimes a directory will rank higher than your website in the search engine results for your main keyword, in which case you may consider paying for inclusion to try and capture some of that traffic.

Brownbook sample directory

Who should consider this

When it comes to free listings, adding your business is generally a good idea, it's free exposure for your business.  When it comes to paying for being included in a directory, I would recommend that you be cautious, as many directories just aren't worth it, even if the salesperson puts on a great show during their sales pitch.  When I would consider paying for inclusion is when it's an industry specific association for your businesses or something similarly specific for you, like the local Chamber of Commerce.  If you are going to pay, contact some individuals already listed to see if they think it was worth the cost before you do so.

** If you want to learn how to get the most out of your directory listing, check out this article by Getlisted.org

Advertising on Blogs

Popular blogs often attract a loyal following.  Some bloggers in turn, give advertisers access to the loyal following they have amassed.  If there are popular blogs that reach your target audience, or have an audience in your trade area, this can be a great (and low cost) way for you to advertise online.  Here are 3 popular ways to advertise via a blog:

Banner ads – Pretty straightforward, you place an image banner (can also be a text link) on their website in exchange for a monthly/yearly fee.  The banner may show on every page of the site, or just specific pages, like the homepage.  If the blog owner can prove to you that they generate a steady flow of traffic each month, and it's your target audience, this may be a good deal.  Prices are usually always negotiable as your not dealing with a large corporation here.

Sponsored emails – If the blog owner has a large email list of loyal fans, you may have the opportunity to sponsor their email newsletter.  Sometimes this takes the form of a traditional ad at the end of each email, other times your business is mentioned somewhere in the body of the content, citing you as a sponsor.  They might even include a call to action to check out your business.  People who subscribe (and read) these newsletters are usually pretty loyal, so it could be a good choice.  If you do decide to try this, be sure to ask for verification of the size of their email list (how many subscribers) as well as the open rate for their last several newsletters.  Open rate is how many of those emails were actually opened.

Sponsored blog posts – Sometimes a blogger will write a blog post specifically about your business or product, in exchange for payment. Sometimes it's a monetary payment and other times it's a free service or product. The very important thing here is that it's transparent in the article that it's a sponsored blog post.  Sometimes bloggers get in trouble for recommending something without telling their audience that they were paid by the business mentioned.  It's not common these days, but it still happens and can make your business look bad in the process.  The most common way a small business gets involved in this is to offer the local blogger a sample of your product, or let them test out your service, in exchange for an honest review on their blog.  Many bloggers are flattered by the opportunity, and as long as you're running a good business, it should be a win/win for everyone.

Who should consider this

If you have a niche audience and there are popular blogs in your area/niche, it's a great (and usually less expensive) way to reach them.  One thing I have done in the past is to offer bloggers some free products or services that they can give away to their audience.  They love the idea of rewarding their audience, it's free to them, and it gives you some valuable exposure.  A win all around.

Platforms I left out

There are other platforms available, but for the small business owner, especially if you're new, probably best to leave out.  I was going to include Yelp as an option (I never used it), but after doing research, it didn't get very good reviews.  There are also smaller ad platforms like 7Search and Chikita that can be used, but it's generally best to start with the bigger platforms first as they reach a bigger audience and their user interface is generally easier to navigate.

Have you tried paying for online advertising yet?

As you can see, there are numerous paid opportunities to advertise your business online.  Some are easy and straightforward, others may require some assistance.  The main point is, there is a huge marketplace of potential customers waiting for you to find them online, hopefully one of these platforms will help you do that.  Got questions?  Leave them in the comments below, or feel free to contact me.

Mobile text mesaaging marketing, NY TImes quoteIf you’re a small business owner and are not using text marketing as a component of your marketing mix, chances are there’s a solid opportunity in front of you.

What is text marketing?

Text marketing is a method of marketing to your customers via highly targeted, opt-in text messages. There has been an explosion in popularity for this marketing method over the past few years and it’s becoming more common for small businesses now than every before.

Chances are you may have experienced another company using it if you ever seen ads like “Text BURGER to 31996 to join our VIP text list” or something of that sort.

 

How does text marketing work?

You reserve what’s know as a “keyword” that is unique to your business. The keyword should be relatively short; easy to read/type, and have something to do with what your business is about. A person can then text that keyword to what’s called a “shortcode”, which is a 5 or 6 digit phone number. Upon doing so, they will receive an instant response back that you can customize. Their number will also be added to your text list so you can market to them when necessary.

 

You let people know how they can sign up for your text marketing list by posting you info where they will see it, asking them to join, and using your other marketing streams to help grow your list.

 

Now when business is slow or you want to communicate a special offer, you can send a mass text message out to all your subscribers and get it into their hands immediately.

 

 Why is it so effective for small business?

 

  • Open rates are amazingly high. 97% of text messages are read. 95% are read within the first 5 minutes. Think about how powerful that is for small business owners! So much more so than email marketing. The fact that your customers will read your message every time is a gigantic feather in your cap.

 

  • It’s specifically targeted. The mobile coupons and promotions you send out are ONLY read by people who care about what your business has to say. That’s so much more effective than traditional advertising methods like newspapers and radio.

 

  • It produces instant results. Things slow? Need to drive traffic and get some cash in the register? Run a spontaneous sale right when you need it. If your text message creates value and is timed correctly, you’re sure to bring some customers in the door.

 

  • Redemption rates are much higher than other forms of marketing. On average, 24% of mobile coupons sent through text messages are redeemed. It’s very common to have 500 or 600 people on your text list as a small business. Imagine 150 people cashing in on a special promotion you decided to run on a slow day!

 

  • Text marketing is fairly inexpensive. Most small business owners spend less than $120 per month on their service. For how effective it is, it’s definitely worth the investment.

 

  • It’s measurable. Text marketing allows you easily measure what promotions and messages are working and which ones aren’t. There is a tremendous amount of value in this learning as you’ll be able to replicate those campaigns not only with text but across your other marketing streams as well.

 

  • The overall ROI is much higher than other forms of marketing. Combine the power of the last 6 points and ponder on what type of return you’ll have if you take it seriously. You’ll most likely be very pleased.

How does it benefit small businesses?

Text marketing drives traffic right when it’s needed most. It get’s the word out to your customers quickly and easily without a large dent in your bankbook. Your customers gain access to special deals and notifications from the businesses like yours that they choose to follow. When they receive your texts, it also inspires immediate action generating the traffic you need, when you need it most.

About the author:

Matt Baglia is a co-founder and CEO of SlickText.com, a leader in the text message marketing industry. Their service provides and incredibly easy and cost effective way for small businesses and organizations to market to their customers via text.

Arrogance, the idiot cousin of ConfidenceEach week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

 

Mediafire – A cloud storage service that offers a whopping 50GB for free with each account.  It's not as well known as some of the other cloud storage services like Dropbox or Sugarsync, but it's been around for several years and has a good reputation.  They just launched a new Android app that's pretty cool.

Folder Colorizer – A free and cool Windows application (3rd party app) that lets you color code those boring manila folders on your Windows based computer.  It's simple and works.  After you start the download process, they have automatically checked an additional download offer for you, be sure to uncheck that box before you complete the installation.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

beautiful print design for brochureDespite the growing presence of the Internet in our everyday lives, it remains as popular and as important as ever to communicate via printed materials.

Everywhere we look, we come across printed advertising, whether it’s the billboard we pass on our drive to work, the flyer we accept from the man handing them out downtown, or the advertisement in the corner of the newspaper page that seizes our attention. While people will sit down and look for exactly what they want on the Internet, printed marketing can be used to catch people’s attention as they go about their day-to-day affairs.

Printed marketing can reach out to potential customers and clients in ways that no other medium can, and here are just a few of the benefits of print power in the marketing world.
Tangibility
One of the obvious advantages of using print is that it is a physical, tangible medium, yet is still lightweight and flexible enough to be carried around, folded and put into pockets, and sent via mail or door-to-door delivery.

Research shows that, although electronic devices are improving, the human eye and brain are still quicker and better at processing words printed on paper rather than those on screens. On PC monitors, according to one study, reading and processing words can be particularly cumbersome.

With print companies working hard to lower their environmental impact through using recycled paper and eco-friendly inks, using print can actually be less environmentally detrimental than overuse of electrical appliances – especially if companies are keen to ensure that their printed advertising is recycled after use.

Targeting a wide market

Focusing an entire marketing campaign online is missing out on a considerable portion of the market. Studies carried out as recently as August 2012 showed that more than one in three Americans have no access to broadband Internet, while an estimated one in five do not use the Internet at all. Conversely, everybody uses books, newspapers, magazines, and all sorts of other printed materials every day.

As well as this, online marketing often only targets those who were going out of their way to look specifically for a certain business in a certain area. Printed marketing, whether via mail, hand distribution, or strategic positioning, is a surefire way to target possible customers in their own homes or on their way to work.

Mixing it up

The choice between using printed or online marketing should not be an ‘either/or’ situation, and the two methods are at their most effective when they are combined. All printed marketing materials should highlight both the company’s physical and online presence. To track progress of a print campaign, a landing page could be set up specifically to record how many people visit the site as a direct result of reading printed marketing paraphernalia. Similarly, a website could encourage readers to look out for a future flyer or poster printing campaign to be conducted in a certain area.

A study from April of 2012 indicates that, even among very tech-minded business professionals, 35% prefer print marketing, while a quarter prefer to market themselves via both print and online campaigns. All in all, it is not hard to see why printing remains such a popular tool in self-promotion, and how the modern, digital age can give it a new dimension and edge. This is why business experts on top of their game should not view print and the Internet as arch nemeses, but as tools to help benefit one another.

Charlton works for Minuteman Press, a printing company which provides high quality printed marketing material for a variety of businesses. More information can be found at www.shop.minutemanpress.com

Jim Rohn business quotesThe day you decide to have a conversation with yourself can be one of the most powerful days in your life.

When it comes to personal motivation, I don't think anyone has influenced me more than Jim Rohn.  In every book I've read of his and every presentation I've watched him give, there are bite sized nuggets of wisdom that are worth their weight in gold.

In one of the presentations I watched, he tells a story about his younger days, when he was struggling financially, trying to find direction in his life.  A girl scout came to his door selling girl scout cookies.  Not having enough money to  buy a box of cookies, he turns her away.  After he closed the door, he said that he felt disgusted.  Disgusted with himself and his situation.  He told himself that he's had enough.  He had enough of the situation he was in and it was going to change right then and there.  He had a conversation with himself.

The day you decide that you've had enough, the day you decide to turn things around, is a powerful day.  You never know what's going to trigger it.  It may be getting laid off from your job, a personal crises, or just a long walk you take one day with just you and your thoughts.  Whatever the trigger is, it can be the start of a whole new life.

Resolve: Promising yourself you'll never give up

Are you happy where your business is right now?  Are you happy how your personal or family life fits in with it?  Maybe you've been dissatisfied with your situation for awhile now, but never had that event (trigger) that makes you stop in your tracks and say “enough”.

If you find yourself spinning your wheels, not making progress, or just not happy with your current state.  Maybe it's time to have that conversation with yourself.  It can be the day that everything changes.