Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Do Car Boot Sales Have To Do With Business?

Last year I decided I needed to finally get rid of all the stuff I had accumulated from when my children were babies and sell it all at a car boot sale. I had masses, so I thought I'd come home with lots of money.

As it turned out, the car boot sale I went to had very few people visit and those people who did come were simply not interested in baby things (or wanted to pay virtually nothing for them).

So instead of making lots of money - I made practically nothing and honestly, it was not worth the effort.

Now, I could have gone away thinking car boot sales were a waste of time - in a similar way that many business owners will state "advertising doesn't work".

However I know many people make good money at car boot sales - so that wasn't it.

Maybe the product was wrong - I did have lots of summer clothes - a cold wet autumn day is not the best time to sell summer dresses I admit. However I had plenty of winter clothes too - and they didn't sell either.

Maybe there were simply not enough people? Well, that certainly contributed - if more people had been there, I would have sold more.

However when I really thought about it - why did I go to a car boot sale to sell baby things when car boot sales attract a wide range of different people - most of whom are looking for a bargain and to buy things for virtually nothing? It was simply the wrong target market.

How does this relate to business? Well, it reminded me of the teachings of the late Gary Halbert:

When Gary gave lessons on copywriting, he liked to challenge his students to a competition - who could sell the most hamburgers? He let his students choose whatever advantage they wanted to sell their hamburgers. The answers varied - some wanted superior meat, others sesame seed buns, others a good location, some the lowest price. He would let them have anything they wanted - he wanted just one thing in return.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ideas For Sprucing Up A Plain Gift Box For Small Businesses

Thanks to the internet, small businesses can now market their products to a wide audience. Small businesses involved in marketing products online, retail packaging is not actually big issue since they would be more focused on shipping. Basically, they just need to protect the product in some plain container and ship it using the boxes by the shipping company they have chosen.

But small businesses have to contend with other small businesses. Thus, they have to be creative with the packaging of their products. This is also essential in building brand awareness. Going the extra mile to provide good service to buyers would also give the company a good reputation for caring for its consumer base.

There are several ways you can set your packaging apart and in this article, we will tackle several of them. First off, for the budget conscious, there is the option of going for that handmade look. With simple arts and crafts supply like ribbons and stickers, one can turn a simple gift box into an appealing one.

Another way you can jazz up a plain gift box is by wrapping it up with a wrapper that would correspond to the contents inside or the season. Make sure that the box is wrapped with great care and it would look like it has been professionally wrapped. Make sure too that when you wrap the box in the shipping packaging, the wrapping would not be damaged especially if you added delicate knots and tassels.

As stated above, stickers can be a good addition to the packaging. You do not have to settle with generic stickers. You can invest on custom made stickers with your brand's logo on it. This would make a great marketing tool especially if you provide an extra sticker for free that your users can use on whatever they choose thus improving brand visibility.

If you have the money, you can have a slightly bigger investment by working with companies specializing on the design and manufacturing of retail packaging. By working with such companies, you would have access to professional advices which would help you improve your sales. Companies which offer said services can also help you with matching what is the best retail packaging solution for your products and your budget as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How To Accept Change In Your Business?

Accept change because if you want to get more clients and you want to make more money and you want to play a bigger game and you really want to leverage and multiply your business and breakthroughs, then that means something needs to change.

But here's what I've learned in my life so far is that we human beings are not wired for change. If you think about the body's ability to keep the body temperature the same and the saline content in your blood the same and the water the same and if you think about your pH level, it's always about balance. It's always about keeping the status quo.

So you're wired to keep the status quo and to not change anything and then you also have this wanting to advance. There is this way that human beings are also wired, you and me and everybody else, to want more - want more luxury, want more quality of life, want more fun, want more delicious food; whatever it is, we want more.

When you want more of anything, it requires a change. I want to share some tips with you today about accepting change in your business. The first one is understand that nothing is permanent, not in your life and not in your business. Before the time comes for you to accept change, you have to understand that sometimes it's necessary for old things to leave and new things to come in. Accepting that nothing will ever be the same is the place to start.

Many people resist change in their business. Maybe you've been going solo at it for a long time and you realize that perhaps bringing on a virtual assistant or a team member or somebody to delegate to is necessary for growth but you resist that because perhaps it's a mindset thing or you have fears around it or belief systems. This is where you have to understand that if you want to grow you must let go of that resistance and understand that the way you did it before is not the way you will create growth in your business.

Maybe it's you've been doing it solo and you realize that to get to the next big level you need to have a mentor, you cannot do it on your own, you've got to learn from somebody else, a lot of times people have resistance around that or resistance around investing in themselves or charging more or leveraging or creating group programs as opposed to just one on one.

Understand that nothing is permanent and remember that whenever you're changing something, there is a reason. There is a reason for change. Change does not occur for no reason. Change occurs so that you can get to a new level or create different results.

Tip number three around accepting change in your business is that we usually make a bigger deal about change than is necessary. A lot of times we are the bottleneck and there's this mindset thing of, "Oh my God, no, I can't do that. That's just going to change everything."

What I've realized in my own life and in my experience of working directly with thousands of entrepreneurs at this point is the resistance to the change usually takes a lot more energy than just getting accustomed to the new way of doing things. Sometimes just getting to, let's say if you're switching from PC to Mac, when I did this I thought, "Oh my God, it's going to take me months," and I resisted it. It really only took me about a day.

Or when I decided I'm not going to do anymore of this type of work with my clients, I'm only going to do this type of work, I fretted about it for - did I say fret? Is that a word? I worried about it for months and months and months and then within a week all my worries were gone and the new way of doing things was just so much easier and I loved the new results.

So my question for you today is where are you resisting change in your business? You have goals. You know what you need to be doing. A lot of times we know what we need to be doing and yet we get in our own way. Where are you resisting change?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Asking an SEO Agency For Help?

Choosing a great SEO agency for your marketing campaign can be a challenging task. There are lots of agencies out there who specialize in Search Engine Optimization, but how can you trust that each will really push your Google rankings to the top?

Past Achievements

It always pays when searching for an SEO agency to not only look into their past and current client base, but also to ask about their achievements. What Google rankings have they attained for past clients? How long did it take? And how much did the website traffic increase? Generally, it can take around 3 months or more for rankings to increase on Google and traffic should increase from about 50% upwards. At this stage, you may also want to inquire if the agency offers any subscriptions for post-optimization maintenance. A good company should, since maintaining high SEO rankings requires ongoing care.

Range of Services

It also helps to look for an SEO agency that offers a full range of services. 'On-page services' like website analysis, content optimization, page optimization, internal link building and ranking and traffic management should be offered. 'Off-site' SEO services should include keyword research, competitor analysis, external link building, and off-page promotion. It might also help to ask your prospective company if you're required to approve anything before they go ahead with it. If they say 'yes', it's a good sign they're honest and willing to work closely with you. To boost your rankings, an SEO agency needs to employ a variety of tasks, not just one or two, so be wary of companies that only offer limited or dodgy services.

Suspect Methodologies

Another thing to look out for is any agency that offers to increase your rankings through suspect methodologies like spamming, keyword stuffing, hidden text, high-ranking doorway pages and link-farming. These are often referred to as "black hat SEO" and can get you banished from search engines, which can be hugely detrimental to your business. Also keep an eye out for automatic, bulk submissions to search engines. Automatic submissions are not considered best practice and it's must more beneficial for you if a company conducts manual submissions. Always make sure that an SEO agency is open about their methodologies used - any secrecy could mean they are using "black hat" techniques.

Pricing

It's important to remember that high prices in an SEO agency do not necessarily mean the best quality. Instead, choose a company based on their client base, reputation and their own site optimization and Google rankings. Similarly, if a company is offering you "guaranteed" #1 rankings for a ridiculously low price, it is probably too good to be true. Collecting several quotes is a good way to start and always make sure quotes are backed by a contract, so you know exactly what you're getting for your money. It will also help to ask what their payment terms are and if they have any fees for early termination.

Keywords

Finally, a trustworthy SEO agency should offer and conduct thorough and specific keyword research as a part of their SEO services. Most companies will include keyword research as a given, but be wary of any company that asks you to provide the keywords for their work. While they might ask for your opinion, the keywords used should be based on their research, analytics and competitor scope, not on what you tell them. Remember, they're meant to be the SEO experts - not you! "Guessing" your keywords is not efficient and a great SEO agency will research your keywords thoroughly before recommending them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

SEO for Creative Minds

If you're a creative mind in a creative business, you probably aren't hugely technical. While you might love designing, drawing, colouring and creating, the thought of staring at a bunch of numbers and statistics for your website is just, well... yerck! However, there are some basics you should really learn about SEO, even if you are planning to outsource your Search Engine Optimisation tasks to an SEO agency or consultant.

1) The SEO Process

As described on Google Blogoscoped, there are three main steps to increasing your website rankings:

A. Create good, informative content on your website
B. Make your website and content easy to navigate and accessible so others can find it online
C. Tell others about your content and promote awareness of your company

A great SEO agency should help you do all three, so look for someone who can talk you through each of these steps and what they will do. A company who only offers SEO services in only one area is probably not ideal.

2) SEO Services & Keywords

While you don't have to completely understand how they work, you should familiarise yourself with some SEO services and methodologies (such as content optimisation, page optimisation, link building, competitor analysis) so that you know if an agency is doing the right thing by you. Understanding keywords is a good place to start. Keywords are what users type into search engines and your keywords will drive your SEO. A good way of thinking about keywords is to ask yourself, "If I wanted to find my company on Google, what words or phrases would I type in?"

3) Meta-Descriptions

Meta-descriptions are generally 160 characters in length (including spaces) and are what the user sees under your page or website title in search engine results. Make sure the meta-descriptions for all of your pages are unique and effectively describe the content on the page. While Google doesn't give credence to meta-descriptions in page rankings, good meta-descriptions are crucial in encouraging user click-throughs to your site. It's good to use one or two main keywords in your meta-description, but too many can lead to keyword stuffing and fewer click-throughs by users.

4) Your Competitors

If you haven't already, it's a good idea to research your online competitors to see how and why they're "out ranking" you on Google and other search engines. The best way to find your competitors is to type your main keyword into Google. For example, if you run a graphic design business in Sydney, type "graphic design Sydney" into the search bar. The results will show your main competitors. Is their website content and layout better than yours? Can you see what keywords they're using? Have they got a blog?

5) Google Analytics

We know that you already hate the word 'analytics,' but even if you don't understand everything in Google Analytics, it will at least help your chosen SEO agency run your campaign. You will need to sign up for an account and ask your web developer to integrate the program into your site's code. You'll then be able to get an idea of where your site traffic is coming from. Even if you hate the numbers, try assessing the graphs and charts to help you understand how your site is performing.